AN Uber worker has been convicted of assaulting a black taxi driver in the latest outbreak of a hire-car war.
Uber app operator Mohammed Dalim, 40, smashed Jon Cox, 49, over the head after a prang at a taxi rank outside King’s Cross station, central London.
Last week Highbury Magistrates Court convicted Dalim of assault, which heard how a war is raging between traditional black taxi drivers and hi-tech Uber mini cabs.
The area where Dalim carried out the attack is one of the key battle spots between the warring cabbies.
Trouble flared when former bus driver Dalim, of East London, nearly swerved into black cabbie Mr Cox because he was setting up the Uber app for his next customer, the trial heard.
Mr Cox told the court “I pulled alongside him and asked him ‘Didn’t you see me, what do you think you are doing?’ I wasn’t happy.
“He wound down his window and just started a torrent of abuse.
“He started goading me, saying ‘You’re crying, Uber has f**ked you, you can’t pay your mortgage.’”
Dalim cancelled his next booking and then bumped into Mr Cox as he tried to pull away.
Mr Cox said : “We were so close he pulled forward and struck my cab which was stationary, I hadn’t moved.
“And then he went mad, he put his window down and went “What have you done, you have damaged my cab, I’m going to damage you, I’m going to beat you up.
“He then reversed his vehicle, jumps out and runs round the back of his car.
“I got out as well just to inspect if there was any damage.
“I went round the front and he was ranting and raving at me and I just said ‘Well give me your details we will let the insurance deal with it.’
“At that point he just attacks me, threw some punches at me.”
Mr Cox, who has been a Hackney Carriage driver for 22 years, went on : “As I turned around to get my phone he punched me from behind in the back of the head.
“He just punched me from behind, I fell over.
“I went forward on my knees and hit my head on the footwell of the taxi because the door was open.”
The Uber driver was arrested at the scene following the bust-up on March 23 this year and told cops Mr Cox punched him and then “dived like a footballer” when he pushed him away.
Dalim denied common assault and claimed in court he had been “framed” by black cab drivers intent on Uber’s downfall.
He said: “I get abused by black cabbies on a daily basis.
“If you ask me there’s a war going on between black cabs and Uber, it’s a known fact.
“I’m an Uber driver, that’s what got me into this mess.’
Dalim said the accusations from the black cab driver were a “complete lie.”
“He came in, he pulled to the right, he started abusing me and I couldn’t get out of the situation.
“To me it felt like when I watch football, a little dramatic.”
However, District Judge Nicholas Rimmer rejected Dalim’s evidence and gave him a 12-month community order and 150 hours of unpaid work.
Mr Rimmer also ordered Dalim to pay £620 prosecutions costs, £200 compensation to Mr Cox, and a £60 victim surcharge.
He said : “You felt everything was a conspiracy because, as you put it, there is a war going on between black cabs and Uber.
“I don’t accept your evidence as credible because you were inconsistent about a number of things.”
Judge Rimmer noted that Dalim ‘chopped and changed’ his account, adding: “The force you used went way beyond anything that could be described as lawful or reasonable.”
The attack happened yards away from an earlier incident between an Uber and black cab driver in June.
The black cab driver was caught on camera repeatedly punching the Uber man in the face in the film which went viral online across the world.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Cox said the taxi rank on Pancras Road has become a ‘mad house’ because Uber drivers are ‘flooding’ the drop-off points.
He said: ‘There’s a lot of trouble down there, there’s a lot of flash points at the place because of the situation of the drop-off bays.
“It’s a bit of a madhouse round there.”
He added: “The Uber drivers are flooding it, they are getting desperate because they are hanging round trying to get jobs round there when they are not supposed to.”
Black cabbies say the tensions are the result of TfL licensing 45,000 Uber drivers in the capital without adequate checks or training.
They are angry about being undercut by Uber while being restricted by a rigid fare structure imposed on them by Transport for London.
Marc Turner, from taxi magazine Call Sign, said: “There is a conflict between Uber and registered taxi drivers in every territory in the world.”
Sean Paul Day, from London Taxi Radio, said: “It’s a war, but I don’t see it as a straightforward war. It’s a state-assisted attempted takeover of a registered industry.”
Tom Elvidge, Uber’s general manager of its London operation, said : “There’s no excuse for aggressive behaviour on the roads.
“We’ve had many reports of licensed drivers who use our app being on the receiving end of threatening behaviour from black cab drivers and we take it very seriously.
“There’s room for both black taxis and private hire operators like Uber in London.”