October 14, 2011
The attacker of a Liverpool taxi driver has avoided jail, despite seriously assaulting the cabbie.
Taxi driver Alan Hope picked up Graeme Dougherty and his brother outside James Street railway station around 10pm last autumn. Mr Dougherty then lit a cigarette inside the taxi and, as any cabbie is obliged to do, Mr Hope asked him to put it out. Unhappy at this request Dougherty then verbally abused Mr Hope, leaving him no choice but to pull over at St John’s Lane.
The shocked driver then asked that they pay the £3 fare and leave the taxi. However, the abusive duo only handed over £2. Mr. Hope shouted after the men as they left the cab, saying: “It’s only £1”. Prosecutor, Gerald Baxter commented: “That seems to have infuriated Graeme Dougherty because he then turned around, came back and attacked Mr Hope, head butting him and punching him.”
Handing down an extremely lenient sentence at Liverpool Crown Court, Judge Adrian Lyons said the attack was a “moment of madness” and that Dougherty, a prison officer at HEMP Kennet, in Maghull, deeply regretted his actions. Dougherty received a 12-month sentence which was deferred for two years. He was also ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and made to pay his victim £500 in compensation.
Dougherty’s brother Scott, a chartered accountant, who was also involved in the unprovoked attack, kicking a vulnerable Mr Hope whilst he lay helpless on the ground, received a light sentence too – just 80 hours community service.
In a statement, Mr Hope, who has been a cabbie for 29 years, commented on how the assault has left him physically “battered, bruised and bloodied”. He now says he feels uneasy behind the wheel and is no longer able to enjoy his job.
Sadly it seems this is another taxi case in which the sentence doesn’t fit the crime.