Cab driver tied up, held at knifepoint

A TERRIFIED minicab driver has today sworn he will never do the job again after he was tied up, beaten and threatened at knifepoint.

Naomi Cassidy

A TERRIFIED minicab driver has today sworn he will never do the job again after he was tied up, beaten and threatened at knifepoint.

An investigation has been launched following the horrific attack, which has left the driver extremely shaken and too scared to continue doing the job he has loved for the past 14 years.

The Hawk Express driver's ordeal came as another Ipswich driver was also targeted at the weekend when a brick was thrown through his vehicle's back window.


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As a result of the two incidents, Jock Williams-Davies, chairman of the Ipswich Station Taxi Drivers' Association and the victim of the second attack, has called for cameras to be installed inside the licensed vehicles.

The Hawk Express driver, who does not want to be identified in case his attackers track him down, picked up four young men in his eight-seat minibus from outside the shops in Cambridge Drive, in the Chantry area of Ipswich, just after midnight on Saturday.

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The group wanted to be dropped at Forfar Close, off Renfrew Road, and then driven back to Cambridge Drive but it was on the way back that they said they wanted to go to Lewisham, in south east London.

After the driver agreed to take them they phoned the main Hawk Express office to pay for the journey with a credit card. However when the cab arrived in Lewisham the driver, who is a family man in his mid-30s, was directed to a quiet cul-de-sac surrounded by flats.

It was then that the attackers grabbed him from behind, pulled him into the back of the cab and subjected him to a terrifying half an hour of abuse.

Richard Morphew, who co-owns Hawk Express Cabs with his wife Kim, said: “He said he wasn't 100per cent sure about doing the job but said he'd do it anyway. He took these people on face value and decided to trust them.

“I got called at 5.30am and drove down to Lewisham. He was very upset and shocked.

“I have been doing this job for 20 years and never known an experience like this which was so set up and pre-planned.

“The thing that scared him the most was not the knife or the beating but his hands being restricted.”

The company has now placed a ban on drivers taking fares to London between 9pm and 6am “unless we know it is 100 per cent legitimate”, Mr Morphew said.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “We were called at 3am to Lambscroft Avenue in Lewisham to reports of a male who had been robbed and assaulted. Officers from Lewisham CID are investigating this. No arrests have been made yet and there are no descriptions at present.”

It is not thought the suspects were from Ipswich. Police are investigating whether the credit card the gang used to pay for the fare ahead was stolen.

Anyone with information should call Lewisham CID on 020 8297 1212 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Have you suffered a similar attack? Are you a taxi driver and feel unsafe taking some fares? Call The Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk

SATURDAY'S terrifying ordeal began with the gang first grabbed the taxi driver's keys before getting hold of him and taking his money from his cash box and pocket.

They then asked if he had any more money and he replied 'no', however when they found his wallet during a search of the vehicle, they began kicking and punching him.

They pulled him into the back of the cab, tied his hands with cable and switched off the lights inside the vehicle.

Going through his wallet, they found three bank cards and demanded to know the PIN numbers while still beating him. He revealed the number for one card, which was taken by one of the gang and used to clear out his account.

The men began demanding the numbers for the other cards but he insisted he did not know the PIN. They looked through his mobile phone to see if any PIN numbers were listed and when this proved ineffective, they became even more frustrated. One then got out a knife and held it to his throat, forcing his head back.

The gang said they would stab him, starting from the bottom of his body and working their way up until he told them.

Fortunately, before they could carry out their threats, they were disturbed and left the driver.

They made off with £140 from the money in the cab, all the money from one of his accounts, his driver's licence, and his mobile phone.

A neighbour phoned the police and ambulance. The driver was checked over by a medical team and despite lots of bumps and bruises, he did not need any treatment.

SELF-employed black cab driver Jock Williams-Davies, who is chairman of the Ipswich Station Taxi Drivers' Association, was also subjected to abuse from customers over the weekend.

He picked up three men from Lloyds Avenue in Ipswich on Saturday night at about 3am. There were several disputes with the men during their journey to Mistley as they began smoking and complained about the radio station.

Mr Williams-Davies, of Heath Lane, said: “I gave them a few ultimatums and they seemed to be quiet. Now I know why because they were plotting something. I dropped them off and before I drove away, got a brick thrown through my back window.

“Throughout the country taxi drivers are targeted because we are easy prey and it is easy money. I have some protection because I have a partition but it is the ones driving the cars that are more vulnerable.

“I think drivers should be given some sort of pepper spray to use and have surveillance videos inside the vehicles.

“It shouldn't have to be like this. We are providing a service to get people home late at night. Things like this turns people off working at night.”

If you know anything about this incident, call Essex police on 0300 3334444.

RICHARD Morphew, co-owner of Hawk Express Cabs with his wife Kim, said attacks against taxi drivers in Ipswich remained rare.

He said taxi drivers in the town had been left stunned by the attack against a popular driver.

“He is such a helpful person and exceptionally liked by all the other drivers in other firms. They are organising a collection for him because of the money he lost.”

And he added: “As a company we are the biggest private hire transport company. On average we have 25,000 customers a week.

“Very, very rarely is there any trouble. As a whole taxi driving is a very safe industry. Considering the amount of journeys we do, the amount of incidents are few and far between.

“Ninety nine per cent of the time we have a phone number for customers. Rather than leaving the car, the driver will phone the customer if they are not there.

“My advice to drivers would be to make as much noise as possible. I would have grabbed on to the steering wheel and pressed on the horn.”

All Hawk Express cabs have panic buttons, are monitored by GPS and also all have radios. The drivers are told to take money home half way through their shift so they are not carrying around large amounts. They are also advised not to have personal items on them.

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