A comment about a taxi driver's appearance on a Prime Time Investigates programme into benefit fraud was followed by an alleged assault on a man seeking a lift home, a court has heard. Morris Agboerha, 52 Chestnut Grove, Castlebar, is accused of assault causing harm on Andrew Morris at the taxi rank outside Xtravision in
Castlebar on December 14, 2009.
Andrew Morris, 35 Castlegrove East, Castlebas,too, is charged with assault on taxi driver Agboerha at the same location.
Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges, which stand adjourned for decision to February 2.
Andrew Morris told Judge Mary Devins he left Cox's at 2 a.m. and went to the first taxi on the rank and asked for a lift home via Centra. He asked how much it would cost and was told €15.
Witness asked Agboerha if he would do it for €10 and was told 'no', it wasn't worth his while.
Andrew Morris said he saw Agboerha two weeks before that on Prime Time for benefit fraud. He told him he wouldn't give him €15, saying 'you took enough off this country'.
The taximan 'flipped' and tried to get out of the car, while Morris tried to hold the door closed. Agboerha swung it open and caught the side of his head before pinning him against the wall and hitting him three or four times on the head.
Another taxi driver pulled him off and witness thought he fell. He was bleeding all over the place and later had to get seven staples on the top of his head.
Mr. Myles Gilvarry, solicitor for Agboerha, put it to Andrew Morris that he was very drunk and couldn't remember what happened. He was abusive and struck his client through the window, which Morris denied, and was spoiling for fight. Agboerha got out to detain him when he fell and injured himself.
Taxi driver Robert McHugh, who was on the rank, said he saw Andrew Morris talk to the car at the front. All of a sudden he went back, the door swung open and the driver pushed him and hit him three or four times on the head.
In his evidence, Morris Agboerha said the other defendant would always greet him when they met.
He came up and said he had seen him on Prime Time. Witness said that was past. However, Morris said it wasn't and was banging on the door. Witness told him go home. He was then hit in the mouth.
Agboerha said he pursued Andrew Morris and held him and he fell down. His friend, who was behind him on the rank, separated them.
Cross-examined by Mr. Aidan Crowley, solicitor for Morris Andrew, witness said he was never asked about the fare. He would have said he'd put the meter on. There was no way it would have cost €10.
He never assaulted Andrew Morris.
Evidence was also heard from another taxi driver on the rank that he saw Morris banging on the vehicle's door and hitting Agboerha.
Agboerha pushed out the door and pushed him onto the window and witness separated them. In the process Morris fell and hit his head.
After hearing the witnesses Judge Devins said it was unfortunate CCTV footage shown to the court wasn't better. There were so many cases like this where CCTV has proved invaluable.
She said she wanted to consider all the evidence and adjourned giving a decision until February 2.