Robbers slash taxi driver’s throat and leave him lying in street

A TAXI driver who was held at knifepoint by robbers has spoken of his relief after late-night bin men came to his rescue.

Grandfather Thomas Newton’s throat was slashed and his head was cut during a scuffle with two men in his cab on Monday night.

Despite his injuries, the 66-year-old refused to hand over his takings and the thieves fled with his mobile phone.

Speaking exclusively to the Daily Echo, Mr Newton said: “There was no-one else about and if the dustcart hadn’t arrived I dread to think what could have happened. I may owe my life to the bin collectors who gave chase.”

The father-of-four’s terrifying ordeal began after he picked up two men at a taxi rank on Meyrick Road, Bournemouth.

The pair asked to be taken to Boscombe and when the cab pulled up in Adeline Road, one restrained Mr Newton, threatening him and demanding money.

He said: “The one sitting behind me put his arm around my throat. I tried to press my emergency button and phone for help but they were having none of it.

“They said: ‘We want all your money’ but I refused to hand it over, not realising that they had a knife. I managed to tumble out of the cab and was lying in the road when the men in the dustcart gave chase.

“One noticed that one of the robbers had a knife. I didn’t realised I’d been injured until I put my hand to my throat and it was covered in blood.”

Mr Newton, who lives in Bournemouth, needed hospital treatment, receiving three stitches to his neck wound.

He has not worked since but is planning to work a shift tonight. He said: “It’s made me nervous and I keep looking over my shoulder. When you work in the taxi trade you are always aware that this sort of thing can happen but when it happens to you it makes you a bit wary.

“I want these men caught and also want to make other taxi drivers aware of the very real dangers they face.”

Both robbers are white, in their late 20s or early 30s and were wearing brown puffa-style jackets with fluffy hoods.

DC Phillip Read from Bournemouth CID described the 9.18pm attack as “cowardly and shocking”, adding: “I am appealing for witnesses and anyone with any information about those responsible to contact me as soon as possible.

“It may be that someone saw these two men either getting into a taxi in the Lansdowne area or running away towards Grosvenor Road.”

• Detectives can be contacted on 01202 222222, quoting incident number 21:448


Kingston cabbies speak out after spate of abuse

Fed up: Mohammad Reza Raghami

Taxi drivers have lifted the lid on life as a cabbie, describing the drunken verbal abuse and violence they face almost every night.

Two drivers spoke out after they were attacked last Saturday – one had his minicab stolen and smashed up while the other had his window broken with a bottle of vodka.

The pair called for passengers to give more personal information when they book to dissuade yobbish behaviour and help protect drivers.

Father-of-three Mehmood Hussain, 41, from Hampton, was attacked by two men after he picked them up from a kiosk outside McCluskeys nightclub in Kingston and took them to Chessington Industrial Estate.

He described how his Honda Accord was stolen and later found smashed into a bollard at the junction of Sanger Avenue and Cox Lane.

He said: “I was scared something would happen. They were getting more and more angry. One guy grabbed me from the back with his arm around my neck.

“I pushed his arm up and my head went down and I managed to escaped but my car keys dropped.”

The same night Mohammad Reza Raghami, 47, from Twickenham, picked up three men from the same kiosk to take them to a nightclub at Tower Bridge.

But on the way they started attacking each other.

He stopped in Hanworth where one of them threw a bottle, which smashed the car’s rear window.

He said: “My job is at night opposite the club and 80 to 85 per cent of my customers are drunk.

“They shout at me and speak badly to me and sometimes punch me and are sick in the car.”

Frank Evans, of Kingston Town Cars, which operates the kiosk, said he was considering bringing in head cameras for kiosk operators.

He said: “Unfortunately when you are dealing with people with drink and drugs it is a well-known part of our trade that they think they can beat people up and not pay their fares.

“It is very difficult. You can’t ask for a passenger’s ID. These guys give false names anyway a lot of the time.”

* Kingston police said a 30-year-old from New Malden and a 31-year-old man from Chessington, had been arrested on suspicion of stealing a minicab and released on bail.


Two Less Scumbags

Female accomplice in taxi carjacking is jailed
Julie Steel

A callous couple who held a taxi driver at knifepoint in Iver and stole his car are now both behind bars.

Julie Steel, 33, from Falcon Drive, Staines, was sentenced at Aylesbury Crown Court on Friday for robbery, knife possession and stealing the driver’s silver Mercedes.

She was given a 32-month jail sentence and was disqualified from driving for two years.

Keith McGarva

Her accomplice, Keith McGarva, was jailed for 41 months and disqualified from driving for three years on February 1.

The attack happened on September 3 last year when en route to Langley, they asked the driver to turn off the main road into Wood Lane, Iver, saying McGarva was going to be sick.

As he stopped, they punched him and McGarva thrust a knife in his face, telling him to hand over everything he had.

The taxi driver managed to escape and the couple abandoned the taxi in Albert Street, Slough, before later being arrested.


Taxi drivers urge police crackdown on ‘runners’

Passengers doing ‘runners’ after taking a taxi ride have fuelled a fightback by Cambridge’s licensed drivers.

Hundreds of people have hired a taxi and then made off without paying after being driven to their destination, say taxi union leaders.

They are calling for a police crackdown on the problem after a News investigation uncovered a general increase in such offences.

In 2008, 41 ‘ride and run’ incidents were recorded by Cambridgeshire police, rising to 70 the following year and 60 last year, a Freedom of Information request by the News has revealed.

But taxi drivers say the true figure will be much higher, as many incidents are not reported.

Glenn Hall, chairman of Cambridge City Licensed Taxis, said: “We’ve always reckoned that about 40 per cent of these incidents are not reported to the police but they can make a big dent in our livelihoods.

“Until recently the police were saying it was a civil matter but it is in fact theft. It would be the same if you had a meal at a restaurant and didn’t have the means to pay. We would like the police to take this theft issue more seriously.”

He added: “It was this that stopped me from doing nights. I got tired of losing money from runners, as we call them in the trade. Often these things can lead to a driver being attacked.”

A police spokeswoman said: “We take all reports of ride-and-run seriously and will always attend incidents.

“Last month two people were charged in connection with ride-and-run incidents in the city and officers attended another incident where two women were made to pay for their fare after hiding from their driver.

“We actively encourage drivers to report these incidents and ensure they get as much information as possible from the customers to ensure we can trace suspects.”

She added: “To reduce the risk of such incidents we would advise taxi drivers to ensure the address they are being asked to drive to is genuine, ask to see money up front and get a phone number from the person using the taxi.”