A PASSENGER who bit a taxi driver in the face during a frenzied attack has been jailed today (Friday).
James Pilgrim, 43, of Newgate Road, St Leonards, left Leigh Curtis with injuries including cuts and bruises to his face, a broken nose, broken ribs and requiring stitches to his finger.
At a court hearing at Lewes Crown Court this morning, Judge Charles Kemp described the unprovoked attack as ‘appalling’, before jailing Pilgrim for 30 months.
The assault was captured in its entirety by CCTV cameras installed in the Mr Curtis’s vehicle, which was instrumental in the prosecution of Pilgrim. The footage was played in today’s sentencing.
Mr Curtis, who has more than 30 years experience driving a taxi, has been unable to work since the attack on Tuesday, July 17 and continues to suffer flashbacks.
Just after midnight on that day, he picked Pilgrim up from the Lord Warden pub in Manor Road and drove him home to Newgate Road.
Pilgrim said he did not have the fare on him, so after confirming that he was known to the radio operator, Mr Curtis agreed that he could pay in a few days time.
As he was getting out of the taxi, Pilgrim broke a bottle of wine he was carrying, which appeared to be the trigger for him to turn nasty.
The violence escalated to the point where Pilgrim had Mr Curtis in a headlock and proceeded to bite him on the face.
It only came to an end when the handbrake was released in the struggle causing the car to roll backwards colliding with parked vehicles. The impact caused Pilgrim to release his grip.
He was arrested at the scene by police, and Mr Curtis was taken by ambulance to the Conquest for treatment.
Pilgrim pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm when he appeared at Hastings Magistrates Court on August 2. He also admitted possession of cannabis.
After today’s hearing, Mr Curtis said: “I am glad he (Pilgrim) got a prison sentence but I think it should have been double. Since the attack everything has gone wrong, both financially and emotionally. I still get flashbacks and now I don’t trust anybody. It’s horrible.”
The scheme aims to increase confidence and engagement between the police, partners, taxi drivers and operators in the borough.
It will provide valuable information to those involved allowing information and ideas to be shared to the benefit of local communities.
Killingworth Inspector John Smith said: “There will be a dedicated ‘trade only’ two-way link between the taxi trade and the police enabling us to notify the taxi trade of crime patterns and crime prevention advice.
“Additionally we’ll be able to ask the taxi trade for their help at times, for example in helping us to circulate the details of vulnerable or missing people amongst the local community.”
Police Community Support Officer Tim Cousins, who helped to set up the free scheme, explained how Taxi Watch would be used to send out information and crime alerts.
“Information about who is a member of the scheme will not be shared with anyone and no one will be able to see who else is a member,” he added.
The scheme is open to all licensed taxi drivers, licensed by North Tyneside Council to drive hackney carriages or private hire cars, as well as the owners and operating staff of licensed taxi operators in the borough.
Inspector Smith added: “Providing a safe taxi trade is in all our interests.”
Councillor George Westwater, North Tyneside Council’s Cabinet member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “We are delighted to be able to work in partnership with Northumbria Police and the taxi and private hire trade to make our communities safer for residents, visitors and businesses.
“We recognise that drivers and operators have extensive knowledge about – and networks across – the borough and that will be invaluable in either sharing information about crime alerts or helping track missing people.”
Secretary of the North Tyneside Hackney Carriage Association secretary Bob Snedden, added: “We are pleased to have been involved in the planning and implementation of this very important two-part initiative.
“Along with the support of Northumbria Police and North Tyneside Council it will not only assist in making our communities safer but will also be informing potential users of Taxis (hackney carriages) what the consequences will be in not fulfilling their obligations in hiring the Taxi.
“As Chairman of No2 Region, National Taxi Association, I would like this initiative to be adopted not only throughout the Northumbria Police Force Area but nationwide.”
Signs advising people they need to have the full fare to pay for their journey before taking a hackney carriage or private hire taxi will also be going up in the cars.
Pictured from left to right, Sergeant Joanne Eyre; Bob Snedden, Secretary North Tyneside Hackney Carriage Association; Sam Paddison from Premiere and Colin MacDonald, Consumer Protection.
As part of my postgraduate studies at the University of Huddersfield I am conducting a study on workplace victimisation. I am looking more specifically on workplace violence committed by customers on home-visit workers or on workers working outside office settings.
I would therefore be grateful if you could fill in my questionnaire using the following link. Please copy and paste it in your url bar (or address bar) in an additional tab.
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Thank you for your collaboration!
PhD candidate Investigative Psychology
University of Huddersfield, UK
A City worker who punched a taxi driver in the face when he refused to take her home from a night out, walked free from court last Thursday.
Yasmin Ellacot, 20, of Margery Street, Finsbury, attacked Abdur Kamalee as he dropped off a passenger at a taxi rank outside Liverpool Street Station in the early hours of February 12 last year.
She believed the black cab’s ‘for hire’ light was on and became enraged when she found the driver still had passengers waiting to continue their journey.
Ellacot, who had been out drinking with a group of friends in the City, threw a plastic water bottle into the car before punching Mr Kamalee in the face through his window.
She struck him with her gold ring, splitting his lip and leaving him in need of six stitches.
Her friends then set upon the car, throwing a black bin liner at it and shaking the vehicle until one of the wing mirrors came loose.
Ellacot, who is expecting her first child in October, admitted a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm at the Old Bailey and was handed an eight-month prison term, suspended for a year.
She was ordered to pay £250 compensation plus £50 court costs.
She will also be subject to a nightly 8pm to 7am curfew for the next three months.
Prosecutor Gavin Ludlow-Thompson said: “He [Mr Kamalee] felt extremely intimidated, in fear for his life.”
He added that he lost three days’ employment as a result of the attack.
Sentencing, Judge Peter Rook QC said: “You must appreciate he was a person performing a public duty who was vulnerable there, sitting in the driver’s seat of his cab in the early hours of the morning.”
Ellacot, who has no previous convictions, lost her job as a consequence of the charge.
A TAXI boss has pleaded with criminals to stop targeting his cabbies’ equipment.
Over the last eight months around half a dozen computers have been stolen after thieves smashed their way into cars belonging to taxi company C-Cabs.
And company director George Robinson today issued a plea to those responsible for the thefts – and warned them the computer systems are worthless outside the taxi industry.
Mr Robinson told The Gazette: “It is a little PDA system (personal digital assistant) and we’ve had quite a few stolen, but they are no good to anybody.
“They are only for taxis but people think when they see them they are sat- navs and they might be valuable to sell on.
“But they will not work anywhere other than in our cars because if you plug them in outside the taxi you can’t switch them on.”
Despite the computers being worthless to the criminals and the general public, to C-Cabs and their drivers the equipment is valuable as they need them to do their job.
Each one is worth around £500 – and has to be replaced by the firm, based on Caunce Street, Blackpool, when stolen to allow the driver to carry on working.
Mr Robinson added: “All the computers do is deliver a message from our office which gives the driver their jobs and tells them their destination – it doesn’t do anything else.
“It is a pain when they are taken because we have to send out for another one from London and they cost £500 for us to replace, unless the driver has them insured. If the driver was to drop it and break it we would have to charge them £500 – that is how much they are worth to the driver, but they aren’t worth that to anybody else. The thieves think they are taking a sat-nav but they are not.”
The latest theft occurred around two weeks ago on Duchess Drive, Bispham, when a taxi which had been left parked overnight was broken into and the computer stolen.
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said they were investigating all the thefts and appealed for anyone who may have been offered the unusual devices to come forward.
She added: “We would appeal to anyone who has any information they think might help with our investigation.
“In particular, if anyone has been offered anything at all similar for sale or recognises an item somewhere that they believe could be one of these computers then we would ask them to get in touch with us.”
TWO taxi drivers have been injured in robberies which police say are linked.
Both of the drivers – a 55-year-old woman and a 65-year-old man suffered slash and stab injuries in the violent assaults in Grimsby in the early hours of yesterday.
Today, Detective Inspector Kevin Foster, of Humberside Police, who is leading the investigation, confirmed that officers were linking the two attacks, and four men had been arrested.
He said they were “nasty” robberies on drivers who were going about their normal business.
The first happened at 4.24am near the junction of Farebrother Street and Garner Street in Grimsby, where a woman taxi driver picked up two men.
In the taxi cab they threatened the woman and assaulted her, taking possessions including cash, a mobile phone and documents.
She suffered cuts to her hands.
The two men jumped out of the cab and ran off, and were seen jumping over a wall on Ellis Way.
One was wearing a black hooded top and the other was in a grey hooded top.
Nearly two hours later, at 6.15am, a taxi driver was robbed after picking up a fare from Cable Cars taxi office in Pasture Street.
The sole passenger was driven to near the area of Patrick Street, Peaksfield Avenue and Highfield Avenue.
Det Insp Foster said the driver suffered “a nasty assault” and sustained injuries to his upper torso and face with a weapon.
The suspect was described as a white man aged in his 20s, of slim build and about 5ft 8 ins tall.
He was wearing a grey hooded top and grey trousers.
The taxi driver was taken to the Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital where he was treated.
Det Insp Foster said both the victims were traumatised by their ordeals, and appealed for witnesses to come forward with information.
The men arrested in connection with the assaults remain in custody at Grimsby police station.
The senior detective said: “These were two robberies on two taxi drivers in the early hours of yesterday.
“They were two unprovoked robberies. The drivers have been traumatised by the incidents.
“Although they are two separate incidents they are possibly linked because the descriptions of a man in a grey top are close.
“These are two people trying to earn a living and coming to an end of their shifts at the end of a long day and going about their lawful business and were set upon by these people.”
“Drivers have to be vigilant. They are advised not to pick up large groups of males. “They have to make their own judgements and they will advise each other about locations where there have been previous incidents.
“Drivers are quite well versed about where it is not safe to take certain people.”
The officer said he was not linking the latest two incidents with any other attacks on taxi drivers earlier this year.
Detectives are continuing to speak to the victims and contacting witnesses and studying CCTV footage from the areas where the drivers and suspects were.
Chairman of North East Lincolnshire Hackney Carriage Association, David Atkin said: “We are conscious of the possibility of it (assault) every time we get someone getting into a cab. It is something everyone is aware of.
“You choose to work with the public and you are vulnerable and there is not a lot you can do about it.
“Even in a cab where there is a bulk head between the driver and a passenger, there is still a danger.”
The spokesman said there is a support network between all drivers and if anyone radioed for help, other drivers would attend as soon as possible.
He said: “We reassure one another there is back up and you might get lucky and have a driver just around the corner.”
He said some drivers decline to work at nights for fear of assaults, and added there were a number of women taxi drivers working in North East Lincolnshire.
Mr Atkin said: “It is an indictment on society as it has deteriorated that people are exposed to this more than they should be.”
He said drivers retain the right not to carry specified passengers.
Man charged with robbing two taxi drivers in Grimsby
ONE man has been charged with two counts of robbery following attacks on taxi drivers in the early hours of Sunday.
As reported, a 55-year-old woman and a 65-year-old man were injured in two separate attacks – the woman at 4.24am near the junction of Farebrother Street and Garner Street in Grimsby and the man at 6.15am in the Patrick Street area of the town.
A 65-year-old man was attacked in the Patrick Street area of Grimsby.
The woman suffered injuries to her hands and had cash, a mobile phone and documents stolen.
The man suffered injuries to his upper torso and face.
He received treatment at Grimsby’s Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital and was discharged later on Sunday.
As reported on yesterday’s front page, four men were initially arrested.
Police said two were yesterday released on police bail pending further inquiries and one was released unconditionally.
A 24-year-old local man was last night charged with robbery in connection with both incidents.
He was due to appear before Grimsby Magistrates’ Court today.
AN OFF-duty private-hire driver sexually assaulted a woman in his cab after picking her up in the street.
Former Welly Club doorman Masoud Rahimi preyed on the 20-year-old as she walked along Ferensway, Hull city centre, from the nightclub.
He sexually assaulted her, making inappropriate remarks and stroking her leg after she got into the front passenger seat.
A jury at Hull Crown Court took five hours to unanimously convict him of sexual assault.
Rahimi, 37, was caught after CCTV footage showed him pulling up in front of the girl in his blue Nissan Primera and offering his services for hire, which he was prevented from doing by his private hire licence.
Detective Sergeant Sam Crompton, from Hull CID said:: “This should serve as a warning to those who abuse their powers as a taxi driver or those who unlawfully use their vehicles for the purpose of taxiing.”
The court heard Rahimi, of Berkshire Street, east Hull, told the girl she was “beautiful” before assaulting her.
The victim told the court: “I saw what I thought was a taxi pull up and I went over to it and asked to be taken home.
“I gave my address to the driver, my feet were hurting and it was the easy option.
“He placed his left hand on my leg and asked if I was cold.
“He kept his hand there and rubbed my leg from the ankle to the thigh. He asked if I shaved and said he could tell I did. I was shocked but kept quiet.”
Despite her request to be taken to east Hull, Rahimi took her to west Hull and ended up in Asda petrol station in Hessle Road.
Once there, the girl escaped from his cab and ran for help.
She said: “I wanted to get out. Once he stopped at the petrol station I took my seat belt off and ran as fast as I could.”
She rang her friend for help and reported what had happened to the police the next morning.
Iranian-born Rahimi, who has lived in Hull for eight years, denied it was him until the CCTV footage was shown to him, showing the girl fleeing from his car as he put petrol in his taxi.
Ordering a pre-sentence report, Judge James Sampson adjourned sentencing but said he would not be sending Rahimi to prison, although he has been ordered to sign the sex offenders register.
Rahimi was in his private hire cab at the time of the assault at 3.30am on May 6 but was not working at the time.
Rahimi, who volunteers as an interpreter at the Hull Asylum Seeker Support Group, has worked as a door supervisor for three years and had been working for Six 0 Cars at the time. The court heard he no longer works for the firm.
Private hire vehicles are banned from picking up fares that have not been booked.
Detective Sergeant Crompton said: “Humberside Police will continue to work with other agencies in brining offenders to justice.
“It is important to stress that incidents of this nature are extremely rare and taxis are still one of the safest ways of getting home following a night out.
“However, we would encourage lone females to sit at the rear of the taxi to reduce the risk of being targeted by a very small minority of offenders.”
Police are to launch a crime awareness campaign among taxi drivers following a series of attacks.
Officers said there had been a worrying number of assaults and robberies on drivers in Leicester city centre in the past six months.
Now, crime prevention group Safer Leicester Partnership is circulating a leaflet to cabbies and will speak directly to drivers about steps they can take to stay safe.
In November, four attacks on taxi drivers were reported to police.
This increased to eight in December, nine in January, seven in February and nine in March. There have been two attacks so far this month.
Police are advising drivers not to display valuables or large sums of money and how to spot potential troublemakers.
The leaflet, which was sent out to more than 400 registered drivers yesterday, also offers tips on how to write a clear description of an attacker and why the scene of a crime must not be tampered with.
Pc TJ Mavani, of the police’s licensing department, said: “Although serious incidents against taxi drivers are rare and we have seen a significant reduction so far this month, we still want to ensure that all drivers are well aware of ways to keep themselves protected and also how best to report a crime.”
Gurpal Singh Atwal, a Hackney cab driver and secretary of the Leicester branch of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union, said: “I’ve been attacked in the past and a lot of drivers have stories to tell about abusive or violent customers.
“Drivers who are victims of crime can lose their confidence and do not want to work at night any more.
“Hopefully, the people who have carried out these crimes will get what they deserve.
“I think drivers are reassured by the work the police are doing.”
Assistant city mayor Councillor Piara Singh Clair said: “Taxi drivers are often working alone late at night so it is important they feel safe doing their jobs and the crime prevention advice in this campaign will hopefully help achieve that.”
Of the recent incidents, police have located the suspects for eight of them, resulting in six charges, one caution and one case resolved through restorative justice – where the offender escaped prosecution by apologising and carrying out some form of reparation.
Two youths have appeared in court and one man is due to appear this month following a robbery in January.
Safer Leicester Partnership is made up of city council representatives and the police.