Teen needs help for alcohol problem after bashing taxi man

AN 18-year-old man who violently bashed a taxi driver, 71, told court yesterday he had a drinking problem he needed help with.

Nicholas Geoffrey Gal pleaded guilty to serious assault of a person over 60 years of age after an attack on February 2.

The elderly victim was left with soft tissue damage to his face and arms and needed stitches for a cut under his left eye.

Magistrate Cameron Press sentenced Gal to four months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, as well as ordering $500 compensation for the driver.

The attack happened just after midnight on Belmont Rd after Gal was driven from the CBD.

The court heard he had attempted to open the door of the taxi while the vehicle was still doing about 50km/h but the victim grabbed him and started slowing down, believing his passenger was attempting to evade the fare.

Gal then turned and punched the driver in the face, stunning him.

He also attempted to head butt him several times after the car pulled over, but the victim pulled away to avoid being struck and threw some punches in self defence.

Gal then left the cab and walked towards Alexander St, leaving behind his identification.

The taxi driver activated the duress alarm and police arrived a short time later.

Gal attended the North Rockhampton Police Station and made a statement later that day after police contacted him.

He reportedly told police he was highly intoxicated on the night and could not remember the events leading up to the assault, but recalled punching the driver once.

Gal told the court he was remorseful and needed to get assistance for a drinking problem, although he knew that wasn't an excuse for his actions.

Magistrate Press said taxi drivers fulfilled a role in getting drunk people home all the time.

He said he was trying to send a message with his sentencing that this type of behaviour was not acceptable.

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