TWO taxi passengers who gave a cab driver Andrew Tooze "an overdose of his own medicine" after he attacked them with a baseball bat — leaving him in intensive care for four days with a collapsed lung, broken ribs, and a fractured cheek — have avoided jail in what the judge called an exceptional case.
Phillip Mallon and Marc O'Mahoney were getting a cab home from Swansea city centre when one of them felt sick, and the car pulled over in Birchgrove.
wansea Crown Court heard that a "dispute" then broke out between the passengers and the driver, Andrew Tooze, during which the cabbie got a baseball bat from the boot of his car.
The cabbie hit the two men but they disarmed him and turned the tables, delivering a severe beating which left the driver with concussive head injuries, a partially collapsed lung, three broken ribs, fractures to the cheek and eye socket, and soft tissue damage around the spine.
Their victim was hospitalised for seven days, four of which were spent in intensive care.
Mallon, aged 30, of Middleton Street, Briton Ferry, and 31-year-old O'Mahoney, of Dynevor Road, Skewen, had both previously pleaded guilty on a basis to inflicting grievous bodily harm when they appeared in the dock for sentencing.
Tom Scapens, for the prosecution, said the two men had been on a night out in Swansea on March 20 last year when they caught a cab home from the taxi rank near Wind Street.
During the journey O'Mahoney began to feel sick, and the cab stopped in Birchgrove — O'Mahoney got out and threw up.
The court heard "some form of disagreement broke out between the driver and the passengers" which saw Mr Tooze get a baseball bat from the boot of his car, and which he subsequently used against Mallon and O'Mahoney.
However, the pair disarmed the cabbie and then assaulted him — in what the prosecutor described as a "sustained and vicious attack" — before fleeing the scene.
Mr Scapens said police investigating the incident initially had little to go on but then received an anonymous call naming the two assailants.
Barrister Dean Pulling, for Mallon, said the late night assault had been instigated by Mr Tooze. He said the two passengers had had the "misfortune" to get into Mr Tooze's cab, a "self-styled football hooligan who revels in glorifying his own and other people's violence".
The barrister added that his client had no previous convictions of any kind, and had reacted "entirely our of character" when attacked by the cab driver.
Carina Hughes, for O'Mahoney, said her client was a doting father and community-minded man "who had not gone looking for trouble" on the night in question.
Judge Paul Thomas said the Birchgrove confrontation was an "exceptional" case, and had unique features the likes of which he had not seen in his 30 years in the legal profession in Swansea.
He said taxi drivers who were serving the public were entitled to the protection of the courts but he said Mr Tooze had a weapon in his car — "the presence of the bat was not an accident" — and was a man with convictions for violence who "revels in violence, and his role as a football hooligan".
The judge said he had read Mr Tooze's book on his days as a football hooligan, and that, to use the common phrase, the driver had "received an over-dose of his own medicine".
Each defendant was sentenced to two years in prison suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid work. In addition, Mallon must complete a rehabilitation course.