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Court hears that taxi driver touched passenger’s breast


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Court hears that taxi driver touched passenger’s breast Court hears that taxi driver touched passenger’s breast

A taxi driver who touched the breast of a female passenger – who was intoxicated in his car – has been given a two-month suspended prison sentence.

Salim Abubakar (54) with an address at 48 Sliabh Rua, Ballybane, was before a sitting of Galway Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing after he pleaded guilty to the offence.

Garda Colm Harlowe told the court that at an unknown place in Galway in the early hours of December 30, 2017, Abubakar assaulted a woman contrary to Section 2 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.

He said the victim got into the defendant’s taxi with another passenger who was dropped off, leaving her alone with Abubakar.

Garda Harlowe said she was intoxicated at the time and was touched on the breast and torso area by Abubakar.

The victim was not present in court and did not provide a victim impact statement.

Abubakar, a Bangladeshi national, had been in Ireland since 2002, had no previous convictions and had not come to garda attention in the over five years since this incident occurred, said Garda Harlowe.

Defending barrister Bernard Madden SC said his client had apologised to the victim and said it was never his intention to make her feel uncomfortable, but that he was trying to wake her as she was “heavily drunk” in his taxi.

In an apology read to the court on behalf of Abubakar, he stated he was a father-of-two, one daughter, and “I highly value women, both as a father and a man”.

“I seek forgiveness as it was a simple action to wake her up,” he said, adding that the night of December 29 was a busy night and he was attempting to get her out of the car to move on to the next passenger.

Mr Madden said this case had been hanging over his client for a long time and had caused him considerable difficulty in relation to his employment.

Prosecuting barrister for the State, Geri Silke BL, said the maximum sentence available to the court was six months imprisonment.

Judge Brian O’Callaghan said there was not an “overall intention” on Abubakar’s part “to cause any more fundamental damage to this lady”.

He said vulnerable people placed their trust in taxi drivers to get them home safely.

Noting that it had been over five years since the offence took place, Judge O’Callaghan said he wished to apologise to the victim and her offender for the delay in dealing with the case.

“That is not the fault of the investigating gardaí, it is the fault of the Court Service,” he said.

Imposing a three-month custodial sentence, Judge O’Callaghan said he was reducing this to two months, taking into account Abubakar’s good behaviour since the offence, the circumstances of the offence and the absence of previous convictions.

He suspended the sentence in its entirety for a period of 28 months and ordered that Abubakar pay €500 to the Galway Rape Crisis Centre within three months.

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