A man who held a taxi-driver at knifepoint after robbing a shop has been jailed for almost 3 years.

Rian Harkin held a knife to the throat of cabbie Stephen Gallagher and ordered him to drive across Donegal during a trip of terror.

The brave taxi-driver only managed to escape after slamming on the brakes and jumping out of the car as it was still going.

He was left with cuts and bruises and knocked unconscious but miraculously survived his ordeal.

His attacker appeared before Letterkenny Circuit Court today (Fri) where he was sentenced to two years and eight months in total for the false imprisonment of the cabbie.

Harkin, 26, took a taxi to a shop in a car being driven by Stephen Gallagher in Derry on April 14th last.

He stopped off at a shop, robbed it and then casually got back into the taxi.

Customers ran out of the shop looking for the thief and tax-driver Gallagher realised his fare was actually the robber.

Harkin threatened the driver and ordered him to cross the border into Muff.

When the driver of the taxi was not responding to radio calls, his company alerted other drivers to be on the lookout for him.

Another driver spotted Mr Gallagher in Muff but when he tried to go to his colleague’s aid, Harkin put the knife to Mr Gallagher’s throat and ordered him to drive northwards to Quigley’s Point.

Harkin became more agitated on the journey because of radio calls and at one stage threw money in the front seat of the car and tried to climb into the front seat.

Mr Gallagher saw his opportunity and slammed on the brakes sending the accused hi-jacker tumbling forward.

The driver then pulled the keys from the car and rolled out of the vehicle and sustained cuts and abrasions.

Harkin fled but was arrested a short time later in Drung, Quigley’s Point by Garda Stephen Carroll.

He was taken to Buncrana Garda station but while in a consultation room, he smashed a window and fled again.

He was spotted outside a house in Buncrana and then fled into the home of a young Polish couple who were left terrified.

However, he was arrested a short time later.

The court was told that Harkin has 60 previous convictions for both sides of the border but none for violence.

They include charges of theft, burglary, road traffic, drugs and criminal damage.

His barrister Mr Peter Nolan said his client was very sorry for what he had done but was of limited education.

He described the incident as a “hairbrained idea” and admitted his client was “no saint.”

Harkin claimed he robbed the shop to help a friend who was in debt.

The accused added “I would never have hurt him. I’m sorry for scaring him. I’m not a violent person.”

Judge John Aylmer also disqualified Harkin from driving for 4 years and backdated his jail sentence to April when he entered custody.


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