“Was it worth it for £100?”… Dad-of-four speaks after terrifying taxi ordeal

THE taxi driver victim of a knifeman jailed indefinitely for attempted robbery has today asked “was it worth it for £100?”.

Andrew Michael Reed held a blade to the throat of Middlesbrough cabbie Mehrban Manga.

The would-be robber has since been told he will serve at least three years before being considered for parole.

And Mr Manga, who fought off the 31-year-old, said: “I think he should have got at least 10 years. Over the years he had been using knifes for his crimes.

“I’m pleased no one got seriously hurt. Is it worth doing that for £100? I was determined he was not going to get it.”

Dad-of-four Mr Manga finished off the last five hours of his shift following the terrifying incident last July.

And the 41-year-old said today: “I had to go back to work to calm down a bit. I did not want to go home and be upset.”

Having worked in the town for two decades, Mr Manga said he was just trying to earn a living when he was held up.

The self-employed family man was lured to a secluded spot in Aberdare Road, Grangetown, after picking Reed up in central Middlesbrough in the early hours.

Reed then put the blade to Mr Manga’s neck and demanded cash, but the cabbie grabbed the weapon and wrestled it away. The driver said: “There’s nothing brave about it, it was just reflex that’s all, it was instinct.”

Mr Manga said Reed’s shifty behaviour when he got in the taxi had made him wary. He said: “I was suspicious when he got in; a young lad normally gets in the front.

“He sat in the back. He slid over behind me which I did not like so I told him to move to the left and can you put your seatbelt on.”

Mr Manga said Reed did not specify where he wanted to be, before guiding the driver to a stop. “Towards the end of the cul-de-sac there were boarded-up houses and I said where do you want to be?” he said.

“I never kept my eye on him at the end because I thought he was getting out from the back. He had his legs behind me and he slid over and opened the back door behind me and he said ‘give us what you got’.

“I said ‘what do you mean? and next thing I knew something cold was touching my throat. Next thing, my hands were round the knife. With my right hand I grabbed hold of his knife and with the left hand, I’m sure, I grabbed hold of his wrist.”

Mr Manga used such force that he bent the knife, pictured inset, at a 90 degree angle, before his thwarted attacker fled the scene after about 40 seconds.

He said: “I don’t know whether he wanted to stab me, but he wanted to overpower me to get the money off me. At that time I didn’t think of anything. You either face potentially being stabbed or you take it off them.”

A police chase ensued and Reed was tracked down in St Nicholas Court, Grangetown, where he was living. He was hauled before Teesside Crown Court this week, where he was locked up indefinitely for the protection of the public after pleading guilty to attempted robbery and possessing heroin.

The court heard Reed had a history of offences where he used knives to threaten people. In August 2005 he was jailed for a total of nine years for two aggravated burglaries involving knives in Grangetown the previous December.

He was released on June 22 last year.

source; http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/

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

source:

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/

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.

source: http://www.kingstonguardian.co.uk/news/

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.

source: http://www.maidenhead-advertiser.co.uk/news/

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.”

source: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/