Court hears Limerick food delivery driver attacked with knife

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A drunken man assaulted a food delivery driver after a dispute arose over the cost of a St Patrick’s Day takeout, Limerick Circuit Court has heard.

Garda Aoife Keane testified that the accused entered his home, returned with a knife, smashed the window of the delivery driver’s car, threw it at the delivery man before driving off in the vehicle and crashing against a panel.

David Ryan, 34, of Knockalisheen Road, Limerick City, was sentenced to a total of two and a half years in prison in connection with the incident and a separate robbery. A request by Mr Ryan to attend his son’s confirmation in April was refused by Judge Tom O’Donnell.

Thomas Rice BL, instructed by State Attorney Padraig Mawe, said the aggrieved party delivered food to the defendant at 9:30 p.m. on March 17, 2018.

“A dispute arose between the aggrieved party and the defendant over the cost. The defendant was out on St. Patrick’s Day and was intoxicated,” Rice said.

Garda Keane agreed it was a “small amount of money”.

Mr Rice said Mr Ryan suddenly became aggressive and pushed the delivery man out the door of his house.

“He (the driver) sat in his car. The accused went to his house, came out with a long knife and approached the injured person brandishing the knife. He broke the window to gain access to the unfortunate. He was brandishing the knife in his direction and luckily the injured man received minor cuts to his shoulder.

“The defendant got into the car, drove to the end of the road and collided with a sign. He was injured in the arm when he broke the window,” said Mr. Rice. Garda Keane, who investigated the case, confirmed the events of the night.

The court heard Mr Ryan claimed the injured party produced the knife and broke the window themselves.

Aaron Desmond BL, for Mr Ryan, asked Garda Keane if any pushes and punches were exchanged between the two sides. “Yes,” said Garda Keane.

She also agreed with the solicitor that Mr Ryan needed stitches in his arm and was unfit for questioning due to his level of intoxication.

Separately, Garda John O’Neill testified that Mr Ryan robbed a vehicle parked in the town in May 2020.

Mr Rice pointed out that the car driver’s daughter had returned from the UK and was ‘self-isolating’.

“She put her luggage in the trunk of the car. The driver for the day parked his car near a store. He failed to lock the minivan. The accused approached the car and removed the GPS. He left then came back, opened the trunk and took out the luggage. The property has not been recovered,” Rice said.

The lawyer said Mr Ryan had 70 previous convictions, including for public order, theft, burglary and trespassing.

By way of mitigation, Mr Desmond said his client had spent most of his adult life struggling with substance use.

Mr Desmond said on St Patrick’s Day his client was ‘clearly drunk’ but that was ‘no excuse for his behaviour’. He said the theft was on the “lower end of the spectrum”.

Mr Desmond said his client had not come to the attention of the guard recently and was drug-free for the first time since he was 16. He said Mr Ryan hoped to attend his son’s confirmation in April.

Judge O’Donnell called what happened on St. Patrick’s Day a “scandalous incident” and an “explosive situation”.

“The injured party was going about her business delivering food when she was accosted by the defendant after disputing a small amount of money. It is fortunate that he did not suffer a more serious injury said Judge O’Donnell, who added that it was committed while he was out on bail.

The judge described the theft from the car as “petty”.

Judge O’Donnell sentenced Mr Ryan to a total of 18 months in prison for assault causing damage and a further 12 months for theft to be served consecutively.

“I’m not prepared to suspend anything,” Judge O’Donnell said.

Asked by Mr Desmond about Mr Ryan’s involvement in his son’s confirmation, Mr Justice O’Donnell said he was not prepared to do so.

“These are serious things,” he said.

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