A Galway man has been sentenced to jail for stabbing a taxi driver and assaulting an elderly man in his home during a robbery.
William Ward (26), of Stoney Island, Portumna appeared before Galway Circuit Court on two charges of assault causing harm as well as production of a knife in the stabbing incident.
Mr Ward, who also goes by Willie and Declan, pleaded guilty to all the charges.
Garda Shane O’Kelly told the Circuit Court that on April 27 of last year at approximately 10:45 at night Stuart Miles (72) was at home in his house in Derrygill, Woodford when he heard a knock on the door.
When he answered the door he was struck on the head by William Ward on the head with a metallic object and knocked to the ground.
While Mr Miles was on the ground Ward told him to give him the keys to his van or he’d kill him. Mr Miles told him that the keys were in the van, and he left with it thereafter.
The next day Stuart Miles went to the hospital, where he needed eight staples to his head to treat a laceration over his right occipital bone.
In a victim impact statement read into court by Garda O’Kelly, Mr Miles said that he is still afraid to go out, and is always worried when he opens the door to someone.
He also said that he had to move house because of the effect this incident has had on him.
That day after the incident Ward presented himself at a garda station on the far side of the country and said that he had stolen a van which was outside.
When interviewed by gardaí he was cooperative and remorseful. He said that the only explanation he could give for his actions was that he had been drinking and taking drugs for several days.
Defence Barrister Conall MacCarthy said that Ward had presented himself to the gardaí after a conversation with his mother.
He added that Mr Ward has had an extremely difficult home background and upbringing, which Garda O’Kelly agreed with.
Mr MacCarthy made a public apology in court on behalf of his client.
The second incident involving the stabbing of a taxi driver took place on December 20 of 2018 near Craughwell.
Sgt John Cunningham gave evidence to the Circuit Court that at around 10pm that night Mr Ward and his niece got a taxi from Eyre Square and asked to be taken to Loughrea.
As they were passing Craughwell the niece said that she felt sick, The car stopped so she could get out, but as she came back Mr Ward attacked the taxi driver, stabbing him multiple times with a stanley knife.
The driver, Mr Ibrahim, was stabbed in his left shoulder and arm before he tried to catch the knife on his hand, sustaining severe cuts to multiple fingers.
He then fled from his taxi and stumbled along the street while bleeding heavily before he was able to get help at a nearby house.
He was treated for his injures at UHG, which included multiple cuts to his hand and fingers, and stab wounds on his arm and shoulder.
Mr Ibrahim didn’t want to come to court, but wrote a statement saying that this has seriously impacted his livelihood.
He has lost income as a result of being afraid to get confrontational with passengers who are being difficult about paying and often ends his night early after any difficult encounter.
He added that he still lives with the memory of “running in the middle of the night, shouting and crying and in fear for my life”.
Mr MacCarthy handed letters of apology from his client for both offences to the court, adding that he is deeply remorseful for what happened, “He understands what he did was appalling”.
He added that serious issue in his client’s past had pushed him down a path of alcohol, drugs and crime, but that he is making efforts to better himself.
While in custody Mr Ward has been engaged with anger management and education services, as well as seeking treatment for his addictions.
There was also a mental health component, as Ward had been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and treated for depression and suicidal ideation in the past.
A Probation Report was also shown to the court which Mr MacCarthy said showed the probation service doesn’t think that he is a “lost cause”.
Judge Rory McCabe noted that as the second incident, the one with the stabbing, was committed while on bail, the sentences would have to be consecutive.
However, in mitigation Judge McCabe accepted that his expressions of remorse and shame were genuine, and that he has been making efforts to “get his life on track” while in custody.
For the first assault charge Mr Ward received a prison sentence of three years. For the second set of offences he also received three years on each charge.
Judge McCabe suspended the final two years of the second sentence for five years after his release from prison and ordered ward to receive mental health treatment, attend counselling, and continue his education.
He will also come under the supervision of the probation services for 18 months after his release.