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Crime Pembrokeshire West Wales

Father-of-four imprisoned for attempted robbery from Pembroke Dock taxi driver

The trial continues

A Pembroke Dock father-of-four has been imprisoned after attempting to rob a taxi driver of his takings whilst holding a cigarette lighter to his face

Daniel McKenzie, 31, of The Green Pembroke Dock appeared before Swansea Crown Court this afternoon (Wednesday).

The court heard that on the evening of September 4, 2022, McKenzie’s sister phoned for a taxi to collect him from her property on Wavell Crescent, Pembroke Dock.

She gave the driver £5 to cover his fare and requested that her brother be driven towards Pembroke Dock town centre.  McKenzie, who was highly intoxicated, placed himself in the front passenger seat.

But soon after the journey commenced, McKenzie proceeded to light a joint inside the vehicle.

The driver, Mr Anthony O’ Connell, requested him to stop smoking inside the car, but McKenzie refused.

“It’s not your car, so don’t worry about it,” he told the driver.

“”Again Mr O’ Conell asked him to stop smoking,” said barrister Georgia Donhuhue, KC, for the Crown, “and at this point he felt heat coming from the side of his face.”

McKenzie was holding a cigarette lighter up to Mr O’ Connell’s neck and ear, and threatened that he was going to take the taxi driver’s takings.

“Mr O’ Connell pushed the defendant back into his seat and carried on driving,” continued Ms Donohue, but the defendant then grabbed him by the throat and asked him to pull over in 29A Windsor Road. 

“This is a very quiet and secluded area and the complainant didn’t want to stop there,” said Mr Donohue.  “So he stopped in a busier main road.”

Mr O Conell got out of the car leaving the driver’s door open which enabled him to observe whether McKenzie would attempt to remove his takings.

At this point Mckenzie, 31,  got out of the car and punched Mr O’ Connell to his face.

 A scuffle ensued during which Mr O’ Connell repeatedly attempted to prevent McKenzie from entering the car via the driver’s door and removing the cash.  However McKenzie continued his assault, and punched Mr O’ Connell multiple times to his face.

A member of the public then intervened and separated the two men before calling 999.

Photographs of Mr O’ Connell’s injuries were shown to the judge.

Mr O’ Connell was conveyed by ambulance to Withybush A&E but experienced chest pains during the journey and fainted on two separate occasions.  As a result of the attack he sustained swelling and lacerations to his face and tenderness to his chest.

In a victim impact statement, Mr O’ Connell said the attack has had a profound effect on his life.

“It’s made me very anxious about working and now, at 65, I’m considering giving it up,” he said.  “Incidents like this dramatically affect my safety and my well being.”

McKenzie was expected to stand trial for attempted robbery this afternoon, however he changed his plea to guilty at the last minute.  He had previously admitted the second charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

He was legally represented in court by Ashanti-Jade Walton, KC.

Ms Walton said that on the night in question, McKenzie believed the taxi was taking him to a garage.

“The £5 which his sister had given the driver was to cover the tariff,  but the journey took longer and McKenzie thought he was going to be charged more,” she said.  “He saw red although he appreciates now that he was mistaken.”

She went on to say that McKenzie is a father of four children with whom he has no contact.

“He knows there will come a point when his children will start asking questions about him and if he doesn’t stop drinking, he realises that he will be spending the coming years in and out of prison.  But he’s making attempts to get his life back on track.”

Daniel McKenzie was sentenced to 54 months in custody.  He will serve approximately half of his sentence in prison with the remainder being served on licence.