James Greenup trial: Fellow passenger says alleged victim was ‘friendly, confident’ before alleged taxi attack

Jessica MoroneyGeraldton Guardian
Former Geraldton taxi driver James Michael Greenup, who is accused of slashing a passenger with machete.
Camera IconFormer Geraldton taxi driver James Michael Greenup, who is accused of slashing a passenger with machete. Credit: Geraldton Guardian/RegionalHUB

A former taxi driver accused of slashing a passenger’s throat with a machete drove his cab through a car wash after the incident, allegedly to get rid of evidence, a Geraldton trial has heard.

James Michael Greenup is on trial in the Geraldton District Court charged with causing grievous bodily to passenger Charlie Collard in March last year in Beresford.

The prosecution is alleging after a couple Mr Collard was sharing the taxi with got out, a disagreement developed between the alleged victim and Mr Greenup, which resulted in the taxi driver telling the passenger to “get the f... out of the cab you c.... or I’ll make you piss.”

Mr Greenup then allegedly pulled out a 60cm machete and struck Mr Collard to the left side of the neck, piercing his jugular vein, before driving off leaving Mr Collard in a pool of blood.

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Darragh Conaghan, one of the passengers who rode with Mr Collard before the alleged attack, told the court on Tuesday he met Mr Collard for the first time while waiting for a taxi in the Geraldton CBD. Mr Conaghan described Mr Collard as friendly and confident, and that he “took a great liking to Charlie”.

“Charlie came over and talked to us while we were sitting on the bench,” he said.

“He wasn’t drunk, he wasn’t slurring his words to me.”

The court was told the three had a conversation on the street for around an hour before ride-sharing in Mr Greenup’s taxi.

Mr Conaghan said Mr Collard sat in the front passenger seat and told the witness “don’t worry about it I’ll just carry on” as he was heading in a different direction.

The court was told when the couple arrived at their destination the fare was paid and Mr Collard exited the vehicle to say goodbye.

“We hugged and that was the last I saw of him,” he said.

The jury was shown CCTV in the area, which captured the taxi arriving at the Broadwater Mariner Resort and the couple departing the area. The footage captures the taxi speeding away and a man — Mr Collard — groping his neck and seeking help from reception in the area.

An emergency report filed at Royal Perth Hospital noted Mr Collard was presented with injuries including a laceration to the left side of his neck, fractured nasal bones and knee grazes.

RPH doctor Tamalee Wilson, who provided a statement in court, said the injuries could have been life-threatening without medical treatment and injuries of such nature could have caused permanent damage.

Police body cam footage presented to the court outside Mr Greenup’s home captured the accused man sitting in his taxi at 5am on March 21. When Mr Greenup was told by police he was a suspect of unlawful wounding he told police he “didn’t do nothing” and “the f***ing legal system is a joke”.

Investigating officer Det Sgt Simon Harrison notified the accused of his cautionary rights and asked what it meant to Mr Greenup he said it “means I’ve been accused of something I haven’t bloody done”.

Mr Greenup told detectives he had gone to a car wash because it was company policy to wash the vehicle after every shift, and he “didn’t see no blood at all”.

Mr Greenup was also captured on police bodycam denying carrying a machete in his taxi, stating “I don’t carry weapons in the vehicle.”

State prosecutor Gary Huggins asked another witness Abdul Haseeb — who was managing accounts for the taxi company Mr Greenup was working for at the time of the alleged stabbing — if there was any requirement to keep the taxis clean, to which he replied with, “yes usually we ask drivers to wash their car after their shift”.

Defence lawyer George Giudice asked Mr Haseeb if he had dealt with customers assaulting taxi drivers. Mr Haseeb said “a lot of incidences have happened like this” and “one driver about six or seven years ago we found out he had pepper spray”.

Mr Huggins asked if Mr Haseeb had known of anyone to carry a machete or bladed weapon which he responded “no”.

Mr Giudice said his client claims to have “accidentally” struck Mr Collard with the machete after being punched. On the witness stand on Monday, Mr Collard denied punching Mr Greenup.

The trial continues.

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