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Jail for sectarian thug who pointed gun at Belfast taxi driver

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 11/03/2016

A man who threatened a taxi driver with gun was yesterday jailed for four years
A man who threatened a taxi driver with gun was yesterday jailed for four years

A man who threatened a taxi driver with gun was yesterday jailed for four years.

Father-of-one Lee Hosie (25), from Melford Drive, Belfast, will spend half the sentence in custody and half on licence after the incident in December 2012.

During a week-long trial the Catholic taxi driver told the jury he thought he was going to die when Hosie, his passenger, asked if he was a "Prod or a Taig".

The incident occurred on December 4, the same night as protests over the flying of the Union flag at Belfast City Hall.

After picking up Hosie from Mount Vernon, the driver was told to go to Donegall Pass. During the journey Hosie talked to someone on his phone about going to east Belfast as "Provies had fired a shot from the Short Strand".

After finishing the call the defendant asked the driver what religion he was, but he refused to answer. A short time later, after braking for traffic lights, the victim heard a thud and looked to see a gun at the defendant's feet.

"He bent down, picked it up and put it back inside his coat and told me to mind my own business," the driver told the court.

When Hosie got out at Donegall Pass he talked to two men, then returned to the car, pointed the gun in the man's face and threatened to pull the trigger.

"He said he was going to blow my f****** brains out," the driver said. "He said that only for the fact he had so few bullets he would have f****** shot me."

The taxi driver then heard one of the two men telling the defendant to "wind his neck in" as they had "more important things to do", after which he drove off and informed his depot, which in turn notified the PSNI.

Hosie was subsequently charged with possessing a firearm or imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, threatening to kill the taxi driver, and making off without paying a fare. He admitted possessing cannabis after £100 of the drug was found in a search of his home.

During the trial defence barrister Ian Turkington said his client admitted being "rude, obnoxious and quite disgusting" to the driver but denied having a gun.

However, Hosie was found guilty and given the four-year term. Passing sentence Judge Piers Grant Belfast Crown Court: "Taxi drivers criss-cross the city and serve both sides of the community by providing an essential service. They work alone and often at night, when they are vulnerable to violence and abuse."

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