December 9, 2013
For The New Brunswick Beacon
BY: NICOLA MACLEOD
A first time offender has been ordered to pay a $200 fine and has been put on probation after drunkenly beating up a Fredericton taxi driver.
Jeremy Scott Daly, 39, was found guilty of assault and mischief at his Sept. 9 trial.
On December 8, 2012, Daly left a sports bar on the Northside after a night of heavy drinking. He got in a taxi and asked the driver to take him to Oromocto. Due to the long distance, the cab driver asked for his money up front. Daly refused to pay and would not get out of the car.
Daly became aggressive and the driver decided to take him to the police station over the Westmoreland Street Bridge. After crossing the bridge, Daly punched the cab driver in the head. The driver managed to pull over and the beating continued, breaking the driver’s prescription glasses, his Bluetooth headset and a $300 notebook computer.
The driver eventually escaped and fled the scene. Daly jumped in another taxi before being picked up by the police. He was belligerently unco-operative for the rest of the evening.
“It’s completely out of character for me to be that type of person,” said Daly at his sentencing last Wednesday. “If Mr. Presby [the driver] was here I would apologize in person.”
Donald Presby did not attend Daly’s sentencing, but in a statement he told the court the incident left him feeling embarrassed, degraded and he no longer felt comfortable doing his job. His wife does not want him working at night.
Daly was drunk and does not remember the assault. The Crown asked that he be sent to an addictions treatment program, citing that getting blackout drunk was not normal or healthy.
“I’m afraid if we held that, we’d be sending a huge number of people off to counselling,” said Judge Julian Dickson, who refused to sentence Daly to the program.
“I don’t see the purpose in directing him to do something he doesn’t really need and that will cost the tax payers X number of dollars.”
Justice Dickson estimated that addictions counselling for Daly would cost the province $1000. Instead, he sentenced Daly to pay a $200 fine and be on supervised probation. He also has to pay for the damages he caused to the taxi driver’s equipment.
Daly has two children and is in his first year of the two-year Jewelry/Metal Arts program at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design.
Since this was Daly’s first time appearing before the court, the defence asked that he receive a conditional discharge, meaning that he would comply with the court’s demands in exchange for the charges being wiped from his criminal record.
“He is not a violent person. He is a respectful person,” said the defence, who blamed Daly’s behaviour on alcohol and underlying anger management problems.
The Crown told the court that cab drivers work in a vulnerable situation and deserve to feel safe while doing their job. Judge Dickson agreed, adding that asking for payment up front is not unreasonable when taxi drivers are driving long distances for drunk passengers who may turn out not to have any money.
“The circumstances of this offence are all too frequent before the court,” said Judge Dickson, who guessed he sees five similar cases a year.
“A strong message must be sent to the public that behaviour like this will not be condoned before any court of law,” he said.
“There must be consequences.”