Taxi driver bit his passenger 'to save his life'
A TAXI driver who bit a passenger in a bid to "save his life" when the man grabbed the handbrake during a journey has been found not guilty of assault.
Adegbenro Olawale had the charge against him dismissed after a court heard he bit into the passenger's arm to try to release his grip from the brake as the cab drove through snow and ice late at night.
Dental technician and Trinity College graduate David Geraghty claimed he had feared for his safety because the defendant was "refusing" to let him out of the taxi.
Mr Olawale, of Lios Dubh, Armagh Road, Dundalk, pleaded not guilty at Dublin District Court to assault causing harm to Mr Geraghty at Phibsboro Road on December 23, 2010. Although he admitted the bite, which left Mr Geraghty with an "open wound", he said the injury was accidental and that he did what he thought was necessary to save them.
Dublin District Court heard Mr Geraghty and a friend had got into the taxi on the night, but a dispute arose between them.
Mr Geraghty wrongly said the defendant was not a legitimate taxi driver and claimed the defendant then refused to let him out.
Mr Geraghty said that he asked several times to be taken to a garda station or a taxi rank and was in fear.
The court heard he grabbed the handbrake and Mr Olawale bit at his jumper to try to stop what he was doing.
However, the defendant "cut Mr Geraghty's flesh" with his teeth, leaving him bleeding profusely. The State solicitor described the bit as "quite savage" and said it left deep marks on Mr Geraghty's arm.
He maintained that the defendant assaulted Mr Geraghty "either intentionally or recklessly" and that the bite was a "grossly disproportionate" reaction.
The court heard Mr Geraghty had already been prosecuted and found guilty of reckless endangerment in the incident.
The accused was a fully licensed taxi driver.
He said in evidence that Mr Geraghty had told him he was only going to pay half the fare. His friend jumped out and ran away and Mr Geraghty refused to get out, the defendant said.
He said he was going to take him to the Bridewell Garda Station.
"He started pulling my handbrake," the defendant said. "I tried to use my teeth to move his hands off but I cut his flesh."
The court heard the defendant called the gardai himself.
"He was going to kill both of us, if I didn't take his hand off there would have been an accident. I did it to save my life and save his life and save passers-by.
"I did not bite him intentionally, it was an accident.
"I was surprised when I saw the blood coming out."
The court heard he was travelling at 30kph and the conditions were very icy.
Mr Geraghty said the car was still moving when he jumped out but the accused said it had stopped by then.
Judge Grainne Malone dismissed the case.