Actor 'out of it' on drugs attacked taxi driver with chain from costume, court told

James Walsh (38) damaged the victim's car by repeatedly striking it with a bike chain which had been part of his Macbeth outfit
Actor 'out of it' on drugs attacked taxi driver with chain from costume, court told

Declan Brennan

An actor was out of it on drugs and alcohol when he attacked a taxi driver with a bike chain which had been part of his Macbeth outfit, a court has heard.

James Walsh (38), of Burnell Park Green, Carpenterstown, Dublin, damaged the victim's car by repeatedly striking it with the chain. He then tried to strike the victim with the chain.

He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to criminal damage at Aaron Quay, Dublin city centre on September 29th, 2018.

Sinéad McMullan BL, prosecuting, told the court the victim, Ian Sweeney, had been sitting in his taxi on the night when a man on the footpath began screaming "I want a f**king taxi" at him.

The victim had the car window down and told the man, who was the defendant, that he was sorry but he was on his way to pick someone up.

Walsh screamed at him "I don't care" and then took out what looked like an unused silver bicycle chain and began lashing the car with it.

Mr Sweeney tried to move the car away, but it was stuck in traffic at a red light. He moved the car into the next lane while also moving across into the passenger seat to avoid being struck by the chain through the window.

He was holding the car steering wheel and also managed to hit the emergency services button on his phone.

The court heard that by coincidence, armed members of the Emergency Response Unit were driving past the scene and the victim saw the blue lights and got out of his car and flagged down gardaí.

'You can never kill me'

When gardaí went to arrest Walsh, he began trying to strangle himself and saying: “You can never kill me.”

Karl Moran BL, defending, told the court his client appeared to be hallucinating and had no grasp of reality at this point.

He said Walsh had been drinking heavily in a bar earlier on the night and some people had given him Xanax tablets.

Walsh told gardaí that he felt “out of his mind” and he remembers being chased by some people at whom he had shouted and then nothing else before seeing the blue lights of the garda vehicles.

Walsh had a seizure while gardaí were dealing with him. He was brought to hospital where a CT scan revealed some abnormalities on his brain.

He later told gardaí: “If I did anything that night that was out of normal, I have no memory.”

The victim told the court that he felt very afraid while under attack in a confined space and that nobody had come to help him. He said  no one should come under attack while trying to earn a living and that he still relives the attack to this day.

Mr Moran said his client is a trained actor who was involved in a production of Macbeth on the night and was wearing the chain as a key holster as part of his costume.

He said his client, who now works as a chef, has not drank in the city centre since that night.

He said his previous convictions, for possession of a pellet gun and making a threat to kill or cause serious harm, date back to when he was 18.

Judge Martin Nolan said it was a serious offence but that he did not think Walsh deserved to go to prison. He suspended a 20-month sentence on condition that Walsh collect €4,000 in the next six months, to be offered to the victim.

He said this was part of the punishment and that if the victim did not wish to take the money, gardaí should give it to a local charity.

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