Teen accused of assaulting taxi driver bailed despite claim that ‘he’s safer inside’

A teenage passenger accused of breaking a taxi driver’s jaw in a “brutal and barbaric” assault over a £5 fare is barred from any contact with the victim’s firm, a High Court judge has ordered.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 3:59 pm

The prohibition was imposed on Dylan McGrinder as he was granted bail on allegations of repeatedly kicking the man to the head during an alcohol-fuelled attack near Strabane, Co Tyrone in the early hours of January 13.

Lord Justice McCloskey decided the 18-year-old can be released from custody despite being informed of intelligence stating: “He’s safer inside.”

McGrinder, of Glebe Gardens in Sion Mills, faces charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, criminal damage and making off without paying the £5 fare.

Prosecutors revealed the victim sustained a fractured jaw, severe facial swelling, a footprint mark on his throat, and has difficulty hearing in one ear.

Medical staff had also raised concerns that the man may lose the sight in one eye.

But in an update today a Crown lawyer confirmed there is no longer an imminent risk to the eye.

McGrinder had been picked up at Abercorn Square in Strabane and taken to Sion Mills after failing to obtain money from an ATM machine to pay for the journey, the court heard.

He allegedly became violent when the taxi driver suggested going to a relative to obtain cash, punching him about the head and face.

The teenager then continued to kick him while he was on the ground, according to the prosecution.

At one point the victim managed to get back into his car and close the door just before a wing mirror was kicked off.

McGrinder told police he had drunk 10 bottles of beer and spent £80 on vodka in two bars in Strabane.

Although he claims to have no memory of carrying out the assault, his lawyers confirmed he accepts the driver’s account of what happened.

As the bail application resumed, a prosecution counsel detailed new intelligence which she said was not being linked to any known group.

“The height of the information received is ‘He’s safer inside’,” she said.

However, Lord Justice McCloskey responded: “This court will not be dictated to by sinister elements of that kind.”

He granted McGrinder bail to live at an undisclosed address, with conditions including an exclusion zone around Strabane and Sion Mills, and a ban on contacting the victim or his firm.

Referring to the alleged attack, he described it as “a brutal and barbaric assault on a law abiding member of society providing a service to the community late at night”.