A 34-year-old man who threatened to subject a taxi dispatcher to an Isis style beheading on Christmas Day has been jailed for 14 months.
Michael Coyle, whose address was given on court papers as Simon Community, Ballymena, pleaded guilty to common assault, witness intimidation, threat to kill and possession of a knife.
The offences were committed between December 25, last year and January 20.
Derry Crown Court heard the injured party was working as a dispatcher for Nippy Taxis on Christmas Day.
Coyle came into the office as it was closing and he was asked to leave.
The defendant became aggressive and began shouting at the dispatcher, who mentioned phoning the police.
Coyle called him a ‘police lover’ before producing a knife with a 20 centimetres blade.
He told the injured party: “I will slice you. I’m just like Isis. I will behead you.”
The court heard the defendant also pulled a spanner from his pocket and threatened to use it to beat the dispatcher.
A taxi driver arrived at the officer and persuaded Coyle to leave.
He was arrested and claimed he had no memory of the incident because he had consumed 15 cans of beer.
Coyle was released on police bail with a condition prohibiting him from contacting the injured party.
However, the court heard he phoned the taxi office two days later and asked if the dispatcher would retract his statement.
The dispatcher hung up and Coyle rang back. During this call he said he would not get the dispatcher in work because it would be a breach of his bail, but would wait for him outside.
On January 20, the defendant rang the taxi office again and asked for the ‘police informer.’
He then said: “Do you know what happens to police informers?”
The 34-year-old also threatened: “If I go to jail I am going to go out and slice this boy up. I’m going to go after him and his wee ones.”
The court was told the injured party was ‘terrified’ as a result of the threats.
Defence Counsel Nicola Coulter said her client could not offer any ‘sensible or rational explanation for his behaviour’.
She said Coyle’s actions were not premeditated and he had no ill feeling toward the injured party.
Ms Coulter told the court Coyle had initially phoned the taxi office to apologise for his behaviour on Christmas Day but then made ‘very menacing threats.’
However, she said her client has difficult recalling the exact nature of the phone calls because he was intoxicated.
The barrister added the 34-year-old had ‘no intention to cause any harm to the injured party’ and accepts the ‘things he did and said were complete madness’.
Jailing Coyle, Judge Gemma Loughran said he had made Christmas and the start of this year a very unhappy and worrying time for the injured party.
She said this man was providing a public service to people over the Christmas period and the courts must protect members of staff who provide these services to the public.