An attacker high on drink and drugs hit a taxi driver on the head with a hammer before robbing him of cash to fund a 'six day bender.'
The Leicester Mercury reports that Jason Neal deliberately directed the unsuspecting cabbie to a remote spot at Loughborough's Park Road cricket ground to carry out the daytime attack.
The 48-year-old later pleaded guilty to robbery and possessing an offensive weapon on the afternoon of Sunday November 22.
It was the same day Leicestershire Police published an appeal for information on Neal's whereabouts, with his photograph, due to concerns for his welfare at that time.
Leicester Crown Court was told the defendant was on early release licence from a two year and 10 month sentence for a robbery at a newsagents in Loughborough, when the cashier was threatened with a hammer.
Andrew Howarth, prosecuting, said the latest incident happened when a self-employed taxi driver picked Neal up in Loughborough, at 1pm and took him to the cricket ground.
Neal's hoodie was pulled over his head and he was wearing a surgical mask.
On the way he confirmed that the driver could change a £20 note, to check the cabbie had cash on him.
Mr Howarth said: "As the victim turned into the driveway, he felt a blow to the left side of his head."
He stopped and turned to see the defendant holding a hammer, with a foot long wooden handle, and tried to grab it but the defendant pulled it away and said: "I want the money."
The driver handed over a linen bag containing between £25 and £30 but the defendant asked "where's the rest of it?" He was told that was all there was.
The injured cabbie driver got out and shouted for help but no-one was around.
Neal, formerly of Loughborough, eventually made off into nearby bushes leaving his partner's mobile phone and a scarf, with his DNA on, in the taxi.
The cabbie drove a safe distance before calling the police and went to hospital to have his cut head treated.
The police appealed for information on Neal's whereabouts and he was arrested at hospital the following day, where he was claiming to be the victim of an assault.
In interview he said he had been on a "six day bender" and had little memory of events.
In a victim impact statement the taxi driver said he had a week off work recovering on painkillers and although the amount of money taken was small, he struggled to replace it as business was down due to coronavirus.
"He felt scared it would happen again and was wary of certain customers, and had made inquiries about alternative employment," said the prosecutor.
Sentencing, Judge Philip Head said: "You have 71 offences on your record, overwhelmingly for dishonesty and I'm confident most of those were due to drug addiction.
"This involved significant planning and the victim was directed to an isolated location.
"In 2018 you threatened the use of a hammer in a shop robbery.
"On this occasion you used a hammer to hit your driver who was providing a public service.
"You were intoxicated or drugged, or both.
"You targeted a vulnerable person because taxi drivers are known to have money on them and they work alone."
Neal was jailed for four and a half years.
Breaking news for Scottish driver grant - exclusion of those who have claimed Universal Credit has now been removed.
Spread the word share this post: https://www.gov.scot/news/update-to-taxi-grant-criteria/?fbclid=IwAR2SUleaZh2QMAuGqxz4KM1K2FCZONembc1w7bgcjWb8yqQziXjEJqhbqWg
A missing man with dementia has been found by police thanks to a diligent controller and an observant private hire driver who work for Sheerness firm, iCars.
On Sunday 10 January private hire driver, Janice Crawford, was sent to pick up two young adults and an older male from town.
After she had cleared the job, the controller Neil Mclennan, received details of a missing gentleman with dementia.
He forwarded this photo to all their company drivers on and off shift, asking them to keep an eye out.
As soon as Janice saw the photo she said “I think that was my last fare. I had some concerns at the time but not enough to flag up under safeguarding.”
The company immediately called 999. They gave the police their voice call recording, call audit and journey log, and Janice spent 20 minutes on the phone to Kent Policeman Zack Williams giving him as much detailed information as possible
Police cars and a helicopter had already been mobilised as the older male had been missing for some time.
Thankfully from the information supplied the police quickly found the gentlemen in Queenborough.
Two young adults, one male and one female, were also picked up and arrested. Thanks to the information supplied by iCars and their driver police are hoping to be able to charge them both.
What a positive outcome to what could have been a horrible and more sinister event.
iCars told PHTM: "We are exceptionally proud of both our controller, Neil and our driver Janice, for remembering so much detail which resulted in the man being found."
Many of Scotland’s poorest taxi and private hire drivers can’t accept a lifeline grant because of a benefits' loophole, union chiefs have warned.
According to the Daily Record, the cabbies are being ‘discriminated’ against in the new £1,500 scheme introduced to help keep them afloat during the Covid crisis.
The grant is available for costs including licence fees and insurance payments for taxis/PHVs not on the road. The £57m funding scheme was introduced following criticism about the level of support offered to the industry during the pandemic.
But Unite warned that the rules for claiming stops drivers from applying if they have received state benefits such as Universal Credit, Sick Pay, Employment and Support Allowance, Job Seekers’ Allowance and Income Support. Others losing out also include those who have applied for but not yet started receiving Universal Credit at the time of applying.
Ian Murray, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and Labour MP for Edinburgh South has tweeted: "My mailbox is full with taxi and PHV drivers who were told to apply for Universal Credit by the Scottish Government. They are now finding out it has excluded them from the very limited support which has eventually been provided. This clause must be removed "
Bosses at Unite the union said many of the country’s 38 000 drivers are ineligible for the much heralded cash injection because they’ve previously claimed benefits.
Edinburgh Unite Cab Branch has tweeted: "Rest assured we are trying to find answers as to why @scotgov have put a clause in re UC or other benefits. Shameful. They have given with one hand and then destroyed any potential good will that they would have received with this unnecessary clause."
Unite Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, revealed that 80% of taxi drivers have lost up to three quarters of their usual incomes during the pandemic. He added: “The trade has been afforded minimal support by the Scottish Government to date and what has been offered has been too little and too late.
“The new monies announced actually does nothing for those taxi drivers who have been hit the hardest and had to claim benefits such as Universal Credit because they will be ineligible.
“The poorest are being discriminated against which is disgraceful. The support for taxi drivers is also not as generous as in Northern Ireland or in Wales where the respective administrations have acted in a speedier fashion to address the major challenges facing the trade.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Universal Credit payments reduce as a person’s income increases so we are concerned that any payment would simply be deducted from an applicant’s benefits. Without a change, making these payments would benefit the DWP, not the drivers.
“We are calling on the DWP to amend their criteria to ensure that drivers on UC can benefit from the full £1,500 payment – if they make that change we will amend our criteria.”
Another cabbie has been robbed this time at gunpoint, by four men in a frightening attack near Birmingham City football ground.
The Birmingham Mail reports that the driver was on St Andrews Road, Bordesley, when four Asian men in balaclavas pointed the firearm at him and ordered him to hand over his money.
The men, who had called for the cab, took around £60 from their victim before fleeing. The alarm was raised and officers got to the scene shortly after.
Police have retrieved CCTV footage and are appealing to anyone who witnessed the attack, which happened at around 3.50am on Monday, January 11, to contact them.
A force spokesman said: “We’ve launched an investigation after a taxi driver was robbed at gunpoint in Birmingham. The driver was not injured.
“We got officers to the scene minutes after the 999 call and searched surrounding streets but there was no sign of the offenders.
Anyone with information or who witnessed the attack is asked to contact police on Live Chat via the website or call 101 quoting crime ref 20BW/10368G/21."