Nathan Grima outside the Mackay Courthouse yesterday.
Nathan Grima outside the Mackay Courthouse yesterday. Daily Mercury

Fight over taxi fare

NATHAN Grima allegedly yelled racist remarks to a taxi driver he assaulted in the drive-through of the popular McDonald’s Family Restaurant in South Mackay.

The driver fought back and Grima suffered a broken nose and scratches to his face.

The fight was over an $11 fare. Grima only had a $5 note in his wallet and some coins in his pocket.

The exact circumstances surrounding the assault are in dispute and both the taxi driver and other potential witnesses may have to testify at a “contested facts” hearing later this month.

Grima, a 22-year-old diesel fitter from Mirani, pleaded guilty in the Mackay Magistrate’s Court yesterday to assault causing bodily harm on June 17.

He got into the taxi in Victoria St and asked the driver to take him to McDonald’s.

Police arrived at the restaurant at 3.15am after being called by McDonald’s staff and saw Grima and the taxi driver on the ground in the drive-through, prosecutor Bimal Raut said.

One witness alleged that they heard Grima yell: “This is (expletive) Australia, you Asian bastard.”

The driver also told police that Grima only had a $5 note in his wallet and he said to Grima: “If you make it $5 we’ll call it even.”

The taxi driver said Grima allegedly replied: “I’m not giving you the $5, you (expletive) Asian. I’m Australian.”

The driver suffered swelling to both eyes, scratches around the nose, eyes and behind the ears, bruising to the right side of his face on the cheek and grazes on his knees.

He was treated at Mackay Base Hospital and discharged later the same morning.

Mr Raut said the attack on the taxi driver was prolonged, protracted and unprovoked. It also was partly premeditated because Grima got into the taxi without enough money to pay his fare.

Solicitor Vince Campbell, of Macrossan & Amiet, said Grima was intoxicated and believed the taxi driver may have thought he wanted to go to Mirani when, in fact he was going to stay overnight with a relative in Mackay.

Grima also had no recollection of using any racist remarks and he disputed that the driver offered to take the $5 and “call it even”, Mr Campbell said.

Grima suffered a broken nose and other injuries in the incident. He had tried to leave but was tackled by the driver, he said. Despite everything, Grima accepted that he was at fault on the night, Mr Campbell said.

Magistrate Damien Dwyer said there were too many facts in dispute and he could not impose a sentence until the facts were sorted out. Mr Dwyer also pointed out there should be security camera images from inside the taxi, which might help determine what happened.

The case was adjourned until later this month for a contested facts hearing. Grima was allowed bail.


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