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Jail for man who punched taxi driver and told him he could not pay the fare

Defendant also sentenced for drugs offences on separate occasions and had two live bench warrants out against him

Taxi

A Portadown man who was caught with cannabis when he was arrested on foot of two bench warrants has been sentenced to seven months in prison.

Court heard the 49-year-old also assaulted a taxi driver after informing him he did not have the money to pay for the fare.

Nicholas Owen Mulholland, 49, of Thomas Street, pleaded guilty to common assault and two counts of possession of a Class B drug at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Court heard that these offences relate to three separate incidents.

The first occurred on May 6, when police were called to the Craigavon Lakes area over concerns for the welfare of a male who was lying on the ground.

Officers spoke to the defendant who seemed evasive, so they elected to search him.

During this, police located a plastic bag containing a white powder.

Forensic analysis of the substance showed it to be Ephylone, a Class B drug.

When interviewed, Mulholland confirmed this and accepted the offence of possession.

The second offence occurred on May 23, at around 4.30pm. A taxi driver contacted police after he was assaulted by the defendant when he claimed he could not pay the fare.

The injured party stated that he had been punched in the chest once by Mulholland.

The defendant was later arrested.

When interviewed, he claimed that he had a brief dispute with the taxi driver but he denied the assault.

Mulholland also claimed that his friend had paid for the fare.

The final offence happened on February 8. Police were contacted by staff at the Linen Court Hostel, Armagh, who said the defendant, who resided at the premises, had a bench warrant in his name after failing to attend court.

Checks showed that Mulholland had two live bench warrants which had been issued at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court.

Police attended the hostel and told the defendant that he would be arrested.

During a search of Mulholland’s person officers found two quantities of cannabis resin in his right trouser pocket.

When interviewed for the offence, the defendant made full admissions stating it was worth £100 and for personal use.

Court was told Mulholland had no previous convictions for public disorder offences.

Defence solicitor Peter Murphy stated: “Mr Mulholland steals to get money to buy drugs.

“His brother passed away last year and since then his offending has spiralled.”

Mr Murphy said: “In the first offence police were called regarding his welfare. He has struggled with drugs for many years and even in recent time has spent some six or seven weeks in the Bluestone clinic.”

District Judge Bernie Kelly stated: “Unfortunately, there is very little I can do. Mr Mulholland has been given two bites at the cherry to get a pre-sentence report and that’s not like me at all.

“Whilst he knows that the drugs are not good for him he hasn’t stopped, he needs to seek proper professional help”.

She added: “Assault of a taxi driver is quite a nasty offence. They work long hours, late and pick up all manners of persons to take them home. All of this without the job being the most secure, especially for their own safety.”

Mulholland was sentenced to seven months in prison for all of the offences.

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