Eighteen months after his life was almost ended as a taxi ride turned violent after a cab driver slashed his neck with a machete, Charlie Collard anxiously sat in a courtroom public gallery awaiting a jury’s verdict.
Days earlier he had sat in the witness stand being grilled about that night, and the taxi ride, reliving the horrifying events of March 21, 2021.
After a “traumatic” four-day trial, the jury deliberated just under three hours before finding former taxi driver James Michael Greenup guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Collard.
Surrounded by his friends and family, relief was etched on Mr Collard’s face when the word “guilty” was heard.
A week on from the trial, Mr Collard reflected on what was going through his mind in that moment.
“You never really know which way it’s going to go do you, regardless of the facts and stuff, but I was more relieved than anything else,” he said.
While many would simply want revenge, Mr Collard said his main concern was the community.
“I was just more concerned for the safety of the community, if he didn’t get locked up, knowing what he was actually capable of doing,” he said.
“I didn’t want it to happen to someone else, especially those a little bit more vulnerable than myself, a young kid, teenager or even an elderly person.”
Mr Collard said he had heard similar stories involving Greenup.
“There’s a few stories that I heard, but when I told the police about it, they didn’t want to jeopardise my particular case by talking to witnesses and stuff, so I was kind of getting it third-hand,” he said.
Mr Collard said he would be “very disappointed” if these incidents were reported, and nothing was done.
“If something was done back then it might have prevented this happening to me and maybe even someone else,” he said.
An otherwise ordinary taxi ride turned violent after Greenup didn’t want to continue the fare with Mr Collard after dropping other passengers off in Beresford.
The court was told the chilling remarks Greenup made to his front seat passenger — “Get the f… out of the cab, you c…. or I’ll make you p…” and “Meet my friend Mr Machete”. He produced a 60cm machete from the side of his seat — which he claimed he had in his possession for his own protection and to deter troublesome passengers after experiencing a series of violent incidents — and struck Mr Collard to the neck, piercing his jugular vein.
Mr Collard was left on the road, with blood squirting out of his neck like a “water pistol”.
The jury was told from the outset by Greenup’s lawyer George Giudice that the machete “accidentally” came into contact with Mr Collard’s neck.
Greenup’s defence relied on the claim of self-defence, including that he was “scared for his life” and punched three times by Mr Collard when he pulled the 60 cm blade out. Mr Collard denied punching Greenup and the jury ultimately rejected the ex-cabbie’s defence.
As to why the former taxi driver couldn’t admit what he had done, Mr Collard said he doesn’t “think it’s in his makeup”.
“You hear some of the stuff about his upbringing, but that doesn’t condone doing that to someone else.”
Mr Collard said he was glad the ordeal was over, and he could now move on with his life.
“I’m in a better place now than I was before the decision if you know what I mean. I don’t know if it’s full closure, but it’s definitely a relief,” he said.
Greenup is due to be sentenced on September 28 and Mr Collard would like to see him receive the maximum term.
“You put your trust in getting home safely in a taxi and you never expect to be assaulted with a machete by a taxi driver,” he said.
Eighteen months on, a hopeful Mr Collard said he is still physically and mentally recovering from that night. But he’s confident he’s on the right track with the support from family and friends.
“I was reasonably fit before the attack happened but I kind of dropped the ball on that one,” he said.
“I’m hoping to get back to some place to where I was before, but I’m not there yet.”