A man who racially abused and tried to strangle a taxi driver has been sentenced.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that Gary Bohanna, 51, of Everton, ordered a taxi to collect him from St Hilda’s pub on Walton Road in Liverpool on 15 December 2022.
The taxi arrived at approximately 3pm. Upon arrival, Bohanna exited the pub and informed the driver that he needed to go back inside to finish his drink and would be back shortly. When he finally emerged, he immediately began hurling racist insults at the driver.
The driver told him to stop or he would ask Bohanna to get out of the taxi. The driver also informed Bohanna that he was recording his comments on his mobile phone.
Bohanna continued with vile, racist remarks and told the driver that he should be scared.
Bohanna then unbuckled his pants belt and approached the driver from behind. He looped the belt around the driver’s neck and held it tightly for approximately three minutes until the driver managed to free himself, pull over, and exit the vehicle.
Bohanna left the cab and went to hide behind a nearby parked car.
The driver flagged down a passing police car and told the officers about the abuse and the strangulation. They found Bohanna and arrested him.
At the police station, Bohanna persisted in his racist behavior and stated that he had intended to kill the driver. During questioning, he denied that it was his belt that he used, denied strangling the victim, and denied being racist. The audio recording of the incident was played for him, to which he responded, “You’ve got me now.”
He was charged with intentional strangulation and racially aggravated use of threatening words to cause distress. He pleaded guilty at the first hearing at Liverpool Magistrates Court on 17 December 2022.
Today (10 February 2023) at Liverpool Crown Court he was given a 12-month jail term, suspended for 24 months. He must do 30 days of rehabilitation activity and attend an Alcohol Abstinence programme for 6 months. A restraining order preventing him making contact with the victim was also imposed for five years.
In a Victim Personal Statement, the victim said the incident has left him traumatised. He genuinely thought that Bohanna was going to kill him.
He no longer wants to work as a taxi driver and is looking for another job but has to continue for now as he needs the money.
He added, “I am a religious man and want to forgive this man but I am struggling to do this. It will bring me peace to know he has been punished and hopefully he will not think about doing this again.”
Senior Crown Prosecutor Michael Cain, of CPS Mersey Cheshire said, “The actions of Gary Bohanna on that day were vile, disturbing and totally unacceptable.
“The victim was simply doing his job but was subjected to a torrent of abuse both verbal and physical because of his ethnicity. He was understandably genuinely terrified.
“This sort of offending strikes at the very heart of what the victim is and is extremely distressing. The Crown Prosecution Service applied for an uplift to the sentence to reflect the racist element of this hate crime and the court has accepted this.
“The CPS would like to extend our thanks to the victim for his help in bringing this prosecution.”