An Uber passenger who beat up her driver when he accidentally drove off with her handbag sobbed in the dock as she was spared jail.
The Evening Standard reports that Charlotte Johnson, 20, flew into a rage when driver Hussein Ahmed left with her handbag sitting on the back seat of the car, as she popped into a shop.
Enlisting her friend Ioan Pal, 23, to help track down the car using an app on her mobile phone, Johnson eventually caught up with Mr Ahmed’s minicab in Streatham.
Inner London Crown Court heard Somali-born Mr Ahmed, who speaks little English, had not been aware that he still had Johnson’s bag on the back seat.
She lost her temper and began to attack him, at which point Pal punched Mr Ahmed in the face, leaving the driver with a fractured eye socket and cheekbone.
Both Johnson and Pal denied the attack at trial, but were both convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm. Last month they were ordered to pay Mr Ahmed £1500 in compensation between them.
Sentencing them, Judge Jeremy Donne QC told the pair: “I don’t think either of you went out that evening to beat up a taxi driver, but beat up a taxi driver is exactly what you did.”
He said Johnson, who has a personality disorder, has a “short fuse” and had attacked the driver because she wrongly believed he had driven away with her handbag deliberately.
“You having attacked him, Mr Pal got involved and I’m entirely satisfied it was as a result of a punch thrown by Mr Pal that the Uber driver received a fracture to the corner of his right eye.”
The court heard Mr Ahmed was left with blood running from his nose and mouth after the attack, on the evening of January 10 last year, and needed surgery to repair the damage to his face.
Johnson, from Carshalton, was arrested after police linked the booking of the Uber to her phone. She wiped away tears in the dock as the judge sentenced her to a nine-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months.
He ordered her to complete 120 hours of community service, a 30-day rehabilitation course, and she will be under a nighttime curfew for the next two months. Pal, from Mitcham, was sentenced to 15 months in prison suspended for two years, ordered to do 150 hours of community service, and also observe a nighttime curfew.
Pal must pay £900 in compensation to Mr Ahmed and Johnson has to give him £600.
A petition calling for Erewash cabbies to be allowed to have fully-tinted windows in their taxis has been rejected over fears that vehicles could be used to enable the abuse of vulnerable children and adults.