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Cab CCTV puts taxi thugs in jail

PUBLISHED: 12:43 17 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:05 23 August 2010

JAILED: Stephen Richardson.

JAILED: Stephen Richardson.

TWO drunken thugs caught on CCTV attacking a taxi driver in his cab have been jailed for 18 months. Stephen Richardson, 34, of Greenhill Road, Gravesend, and Gavin Clark, 23, of Snelling Avenue, Northfleet, were sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court last Fr

JAILED: Gavin Clark.

TWO drunken thugs caught on CCTV attacking a taxi driver in his cab have been jailed for 18 months.

Stephen Richardson, 34, of Greenhill Road, Gravesend, and Gavin Clark, 23, of Snelling Avenue, Northfleet, were sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court last Friday.

Both men, who pleaded guilty to affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, were convicted using footage from taxi CCTV cameras, the first prosecution of its kind since cameras were installed in cabs following the murder of popular Sikh cabbie Gian Chand Bajar in May 2007.

The driver, Steven West, 46, who works for Gravesend-based Phoenix Taxis, suffered black eyes, cuts and bruises in the assault which left him unable to work for nine days, losing him about £1,000.

TRAGEDY: The murder of cabbie Gian Chand Bajar prompted taxi cameras.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Andrew Patience described the assault as "outrageous and wicked" and added: "You set upon him, causing him unpleasant injuries and at one stage leading him to think he might not survive.

"The CCTV in the cab was installed as the result of the murder of one of his colleagues, and thank goodness it was because you pleaded guilty as a result of the evidence."

The court heard the trouble started when Mr West's cab struck Richardson's brother, Bill, who drunkenly stumbled into the road in Perry Street, Northfleet at about 10.30pm on April 24.

Mr West then called an ambulance, but Richardson, a father of three, came out of The Crown pub and thought he was to blame and set about assaulting the driver.

Others tried to restrain Richardson before Clark joined the attack, punching Mr West in the face.

Mr West ended up on the ground, covered in blood, with a footprint on the back of his head.

Richardson made a full and frank admission to the assault, while Clark admitted his guilt after seeing the CCTV footage.

In a statement read out in court, Mr West told of the effect the incident had had on his family, revealing he argued with his wife about the job, faced money worries and was forced to move.

It read: "The thing I can't stress enough is the fact that I thought I was going to die. All I want in my life is to see my children grow up and at one stage I honestly thought it wasn't going to happen."

Two years ago, Gian Chand Bajar, of Darnley Road, Gravesend, was murdered by Luke Aujila.

After his death, cabbies worked with Kent Police and Gravesham council to secure funding for CCTV in cabs.

Investigating officer DC Manraj Sanghera, said: "The CCTV footage was crucial in leading to their arrest, charge and conviction. It is also an example of the benefits of CCTV in taxis.

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