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Co Armagh man jailed for assaulting and spitting on taxi company staff when drunk

"You vomited, you spat at people, you attacked people who are there simply to provide a general service..."

Donald McComb from Lurgan

A Lurgan man with 132 convictions who assaulted and spat on staff at a taxi company whilst drunk has been jailed for 11 months.

On sentencing Donald Brian McComb, whose address is given in court papers as the Simon Community Hostel in Portadown, Judge Lynch KC described the case as “disgusting behaviour” against people who provide a “vital service”.

The 38-year-old appeared before Craigavon Crown Court for sentencing on two counts of common assault and one count of assault on police.

On June 1 this year, McComb pleaded guilty to the common assaults but denied the assault on police. He was rearraigned on June 9, when he then pleaded guilty to that charge.

The court was told that on October 8 last year, at approximately 6pm, police on mobile patrol in Lurgan were flagged down by a taxi driver who reported that a male was behaving aggressively towards staff in the taxi rank.

Upon their arrival, police observed the defendant, who appeared to be intoxicated, at the entrance of the taxi rank. He became confrontational towards police and refused to move from the entrance, shouting profanities towards staff in the taxi office.

Police spoke with staff who alleged that they’d been assaulted by the defendant. One stated that he had asked about a taxi and then been sick on a seat in the waiting area. When told he couldn’t get a taxi, he became angry and “spat at him, with spit landing on the back of his head”.

The defendant then left, before returning to the waiting area. He shouted abuse again and punched the staff member to the right ear and above his right hip a number of times.

A second member of staff reported the defendant had also become abusive to her. She alleged that he spat through the hatch in the office, with spit hitting her shirt, left hand and equipment.

Later, when the defendant returned, he shouted further abuse at her and “punched her to the left side of her head”.

When the defendant was arrested, he continued to behave aggressively with police and spat in the cell van. Despite being warned to stop, he spat at a constable, making contact with his trouser leg.

McComb was interviewed the next day and denied the allegations. He confirmed he had been drinking Buckfast and beer on that day.

After the facts of the incident were outlined, the prosecution made reference to McComb’s “extensive criminal record” which contains 132 entries, including 17 assault on police, 13 common assaults and seven serious assaults.

They added that the offences before the court were committed whilst he was on licence for offences dealt with at Craigavon Crown Court on July 22 last year.

Aaron Thompson BL, defending, said that the offences were “fundamentally in the magistrates’ court character in the main, but his record brings him here”.

Speaking on the defendant’s record, he said: “A lot of his adult life has been spent in and out of custody and he has struggled with that.

Every time he’s released from custody he goes into that cycle of licence conditions, hostel accommodation and it’s a fairly self-defeating cycle. That gives him a lot of frustration.”

Mr Thompson continued that McComb has conducted himself well in custody and has been attending therapy and mental health groups.

“Sadly, life outside of the prison is difficult for him. He’s obviously struggling reintegrating back after sentences and that test awaits him again after this sentence.”

On passing sentence, Judge Lynch commented: “Yet again Mr McComb, you’ve let yourself down with this disgusting behaviour.

“You vomited, you spat at people, you attacked people who are there simply to provide a general service… They’re providing a very important service as a taxi service and they don’t need people like you coming along and indulging in this sort of behaviour.

“Then, when the police come along, of course you exacerbate the whole thing.”

Noting the defendant’s “appalling record” but also his guilty plea, Judge Lynch imposed a sentence of 11 months on the assault charges and six months on the assault on police charge.

These sentences were to run concurrently with each other, but consecutive to his current sentence.

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