Man charged with assault previously convicted of impaired driving causing bodily harm

Deana Stokes Sullivan
Published on April 17, 2014

Lucas O’Keefe, who was convicted of drunk driving causing bodily harm in 2011, is the 33-year-old Mount Pearl man who was charged Sunday with assault causing bodily harm on a Co-op Taxi driver in St. John’s.

Co-op Taxi general manager Doug McCarthy told The Telegram the driver, a foreign exchange student from Pakistan, picked up a passenger in downtown St. John’s and drove him to the Heatherton Place/Hamlyn Road area, a ride that costs about $15.

The passenger allegedly got out without paying the driver and tried to kick in the door of a home. McCarthy said the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary was called, but by the time officers got there, the man had pulled the driver out of the car and assaulted him by hitting him and biting his fingers.

McCarthy said he has a broken collarbone and his thumb and forefinger were severely bitten.

An ambulance took the driver to hospital and, McCarthy said, he was told it took five police officers to arrest the suspect.

He said the driver is now in Halifax getting treatment and is worried because he’s supposed to make a presentation in the United States soon to get a university scholarship. “He doesn’t know if he will be able to. He can’t even talk,” McCarthy said.

The RNC confirmed that a suspect was arrested around 2 a.m. Sunday. The suspect first appeared in provincial court Sunday following the incident and was released on bail Tuesday.

The charges against him are assault causing bodily harm, uttering threats, fraudulently obtaining transportation and resisting arrest.

O’Keefe was sentenced in November, 2011 to a 30-month prison term in connection with a drunk driving incident on March 13, 2011. A pickup truck he was driving rammed into the back of a car in front of the Village Shopping Centre on Topsail Road in St. John’s, sending it into a tailspin over a sidewalk, through a chainlink fence and back onto the road.

Police estimated O'Keefe, who had his licence suspended at the time, was driving at a speed of at least 120 km/h. All three occupants of the car were injured in the crash.

He pleaded guilty to five charges - two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm, refusing the breathalyzer, destroying RNC property (a police car) and failing to stop at the scene of an accident and offer assistance.

During his sentencing hearing, O’Keefe gave a tearful apology to those he injured in the crash, said he was ashamed of his actions and the incident was a wake-up call for him.

Judge David Orr said be believed O’Keefe was sincere when he said he was sorry for driving drunk, smashing into a car and injuring two people.

But it wasn't enough to prevent him from imposing jail time.

O'Keefe was given straight-time credit for the 146 days served in custody, leaving 25 1/2 months left on his term.

Once released from prison, he was also to be prohibited from driving for three years.

O’Keefe was also sentenced in July 2011 in connection with  leaving the scene of an accident and breaching his probation on Dec. 4, 2010. He pleaded guilty to both counts and had several other charges dropped.

He was sentenced by Judge David Orr in provincial court in St. John’s to 90 days in jail, but was given credit for 88 days served, leaving a balance of two days to spent in jail. O’Keefe also received a year of probation and a two-year driving prohibition.

The court was told that around 12:45 a.m.on Dec. 4, 2010, O’Keefe was involved in a fight with another man outside Darnell’s Pub on Topsail Road in Paradise. After a group of men broke up the fight, the man left in a car with a female driver. O’Keefe, who witnesses said appeared drunk and angry, got in his car and chased them.

He caught up to the other car at the Karwood Drive area on Topsail Road and proceeded to ram the driver’s side door before speeding off. While the car was extensively damaged, neither the female driver nor the man were injured.

In relation to the most recent charges against him, O’Keefe is due back before a judge on May 22.

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