Posted by admin on April 12th, 2015
Source: Gloucester Citizen
A taxi driver has slammed the sentence given to two brothers from Matson who have been spared jail despite a “disgraceful and sustained attack” leaving his brother unrecognisable to his family.
After getting drunk at a christening party, Ben Howell, 27, of Birchall Avenue and 23-year-old Bradley Howell of Penhill Road, attacked cabbie Aga Farooq on October 12 last year in Coney Hill Parade at 8.45pm, Gloucester Crown Court was told.
The court heard the pair got out of the taxi, grabbed him, pulled him from the vehicle and proceeded to punch, kick and stamp on him and hit him over the head with a traffic cone.
Mr Farooq, a 36-year-old father of two from Tredworth, took eight weeks to recover from the ordeal. He works for his brother Shaban Kahn at his firm A2B Taxis.
Mr Kahn said he did not recognise his brother in the bruised and bloodied face he saw at hospital after the attack. “It was not the same person. You couldn’t even see his eyes his face was so swollen,” he said. “If the judge had seen him then he would have given them jail. “This is very upsetting news. We’re totally gutted.”
He said the family was furious with the decision, claiming taxi drivers were not being protected. “This is really bad news for us, they need to stop this happening to taxi drivers, not just me or my brother but everywhere,” he said. “They needed to teach these men a lesson but they haven’t. “My brother could have been beaten to death. They were stomping on his face. “I hoped it would send a message out there that taxi drivers have their rights but now we are worried about being beaten up.”
He added they were concerned the decision would leave them vulnerable to further attacks. “Helping the police was a waste of time,” he said.
At court prosecuting barrister Paul Cook said the defendants were making abusive remarks to the taxi-driver about his driving when he drove them from a pub in Gloucester to Matson.
“The fare was £13 but they only gave him £10 and then demanded £5 in change. They got out of the cab and Bradley grabbed the driver through his window while Ben walked around the vehicle and attacked him through the passenger door”. “They punched him, slapped his face and when he tried to run away they chased him and pushed him up against a wall. “A nearby neighbour looked out of her window and saw the two men leaning over Mr Farooq who was lying face-down on the ground. “She saw them hitting him and hitting him over the head with an orange traffic cone.”
The court heard that Ben Howell had no previous convictions and Bradley only had a drink-drive and disorderly conduct conviction. Conceding that it was “unacceptable drunken behaviour,” defending lawyer Tim Burrows said: “They are very ashamed at what they did, which was a sustained attack which put the taxi-driver through a horrible experience but fortunately he was not seriously hurt. “Both defendants are in employment and have stable relationships with children and are normally law-abiding.”
The judge, Recorder Peter Towler, told the brothers “This was drunken thuggery and a quite appalling attack on a taxi-driver after you had insulted him during the ride. “Fortunately it was seen by a neighbour who called the police and you both ran off but were caught. “This was disgraceful behaviour but was entirely out of character and I believe you are both deeply remorseful. “You are both extremely lucky.”
The Recorder sentenced each of the men to one year’s jail, suspended for two years. He also ordered them to do 250 hours of unpaid work each and to pay £150 prosecution costs in each case. The defendants were also each ordered to pay Mr Farooq £500 compensation.