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Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Taxi driver subjected to tirade of racist abuse, court told (UK)

Daniel Miller
An Asian taxi driver was subjected to a tirade of racist abuse before being punched in the face by a customer.

Daniel Miller, 28, from Canberra Close in Stoke Hill, Exeter, launched the attack on the driver after a disagreement broke out over the fare.

Miller has just been sentenced after he pleaded guilty to racially aggravated common assault on Hackney Carriage driver Mohammad Numan at an earlier hearing.

The Echo has revealed a growing concern among taxi companies and police over a recent increase in the number of physical and verbal attacks on drivers.

Darren Pike, owner of Alpha Taxis, recently installed a CCTV camera in his vehicle in a bid to curb the abuse. Police and Exeter City Council, which licences vehicles, are also supporting the move after revealing that assaults are increasing.

Miller received a community order for 12 months, to include a 'thinking skills programme', and 150 hours of unpaid community service under the supervision of a probation officer.
He was also ordered to pay £50 compensation to Mr Numan to cover the unpaid fare and injury, and £150 costs.
Prosecuting, Ed Canning told the court the victim was a taxi driver working off the rank in Sidwell Street who picked up Miller after a night out.

He said: "On arrival to his address Mr Miller said he didn't have enough money to pay and Mr Numan asked for something for security while he went inside to get the money.

"A disagreement started and Miller started to racially abuse Mr Numan and repeatedly punch him. Mr Numan put his hand up to protect himself and received bruising," Mr Canning continued.

"Mr Miller then issued more racist abuse and punched the left side of Mr Numan's forehead. He then kicked the wing mirror of his car. Neighbours were disturbed and the police were called."

Miller had previously told police he had been drinking and had a tendency to become abusive when drunk.
The court heard that Mr Numan had made a claim for compensation for the fare of £6.75 that was never paid.

In mitigation, Gareth Evans said: "Mr Miller is a seriously contrite 28-year-old and he is ashamed of his actions.

"Mr Miller reached for his wallet but had no money. The disagreement provoked an inappropriate response. This doesn't justify what happened and Mr Miller knows he cannot justify it. There was never any prospect that Mr Miller was not going to pay Mr Numan his fare.

"Mr Miller is not a racist person and does not hold racist views."

Miller told police he didn't remember much about the incident because of the drink.

Mr Evans added: "He accepts responsibility and recognises his behaviour was over the top and inappropriate. He had massively too much to drink that night but he is not an excessive drinker usually."

The court heard Miller is in full time work and lives with his mother and father.

In August, seven attacks against drivers in the city were reported to police in the space of just three weeks.
Among the incidents was a horrific attack which left a driver with serious head injuries.

As revealed in the Echo, a 36-year-old local man was assaulted at the side of a busy road in Beacon Heath and was knocked unconscious.

Taxi firms interested in working with the police on the installation of cameras can call Sergeant Beverley Weston on 01392 451585.

This is Exeter