A PORTLAOISE man who robbed a taxi driver at knife-point to clear a drug debt, leaving the injured party with nightmares after the incident, has been ordered to engage with the probation services while he completes a previous sentence at the Midlands prison.
Justin Greene, 73 O’Moore Place, Portlaoise, is currently serving a six-month sentence, with a release date of May 29. Greene was produced in custody at the recent Circuit Court, where he was further charged with robbery and the production of an article, at Triogue Manor, Portlaoise, on November 7, 2011.
Sgt James Phelan, led by State prosecutor, Mr Will Fennelly, gave evidence that the taxi driver was parked in the estate with two passengers when Greene opened the door, produced a knife and demanded money. The knife was put to the driver’s face, causing a 1cm nick below the eye, before Greene grabbed the driver’s money bag and fled the scene.
Two hours later, Greene arrived at the garda station and admitted the crime. He brought gardaí on his escape route, claiming that the knife had fallen into a drain as he ran and he had abandoned the money bag as he thought he was being followed. Greene told the gardaí that he had a drug debt he needed to deal with and claimed he had been threatened earlier that day.
“He claims to have an addiction to cannabis, but he’s not seeking any treatment,” Sgt Phelan told the court.
The sergeant read from the injured party’s statement, in which the taxi driver said he suffered from nightmares after the incident.
The man said he had seen Greene since and, according to Sgt Phelan, “he had not found it a pleasant experience”. The sergeant said that the driver had stopped work for two weeks, leaving him out of pocket to the sum of €1,000, and he has since given up taxiing.
Greene has a number of previous convictions, including ten public order offences, theft and assault.
Defence, Ms Geraldine Fitzpatrick put it to the sergeant that the other two men present in the taxi at the time seemed to be part of this attack.
“I have my suspicions of that,” admitted Sgt Phelan.
Ms Fitzpatrick said her client had underlying drink and drug issues and had written a letter of apology to the injured party.
The matter was put back to April 23, for a probation report and for Greene to submit to urine analysis.