A customer who kicked a taxi driver out of his car and said “it’s my turn to drive” has been jailed for nine months.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard Michael Mallon, 27, carried out the assault after refusing to pay a fare.
Imposing the maximum available sentence, District Judge Mark Hamill said: “This man soars over the custody threshold.”
Mallon, of Summerhill Drive in the Dunmurry area, was convicted of common assault, disorderly behaviour, criminal damage, and obtaining services dishonestly.
Prosecutors said he got into the taxi last August and asked to be taken to a location in the city.
He then changed his mind and requested a different destination, but became abusive when told the cost of the fare.
Amid concerns his passenger was not going to pay, the driver headed towards a police station in the Stewartstown Road area.
The court was told that after the car came to a stop Mallon used his foot to push him out.
“He said ‘It’s my turn to drive’,” a Crown lawyer continued.
Police were alerted and removed Mallon from the vehicle while he swore incoherently.
He was searched and a small bag of herbal cannabis seized from him.
Defence barrister Luke Curran stressed there was no allegation of Mallon attempting to take the taxi.
Counsel said his client accepted there had been a “heated” exchange with the driver, and that he had thought it would be more secure for him to remain in the car.
But Mr Hamill emphasised the seriousness of assaulting anyone providing a public service.
“This man was trying to do an honest day’s work and (Mallon) declined to pay a fare, climbed in the front and kicks him out of his own taxi,” the judge pointed out.
Imposing six months imprisonment, he ordered the defendant to serve a further three months of a previously suspended term.
Mallon was also fined £75 for the possession of cannabis.