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'I thought I was going to die', cabbie reveals.

PUBLISHED: 16:26 05 August 2009 | UPDATED: 10:56 23 August 2010

THE thing that 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. These are the distressing words of Steven West, a 4

THE thing that 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."

These are the distressing words of Steven West, a 46-year-old taxi driver who was savagely beaten in an unprovoked attack.

He was repeatedly punched as he talked on his phone in Perry Street, Northfleet, while working a Friday night late shift on April 24.

On Monday Stephen Richardson, 34, of Greenhill Road, Gravesend, and Gavin Clark, 23, of Snelling Avenue, Northfleet, appeared at Dartford Magistrates Court.

Having pleaded guilty to affray and assault causing actual bodily harm their case was sent to Maidstone Crown Court for sentencing.

Following the assault Mr West, who works for Gravesend-based Phoenix Taxis, was unable to go back to work for nine days resulting in the loss of around £1,000 in earnings.

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

He added: "Because of what happened to me it has been a struggle to go out on Friday nights.

"I have been reluctant to go out on Friday nights after about 10.30pm because this was about the time the attack happened. I used to stay out until about 3 or 4am before.

"As a taxi driver I put up with a lot of abuse from people during my job. I want them and others to realise alcohol is not an excuse. I am innocent and they are not."

Richardson and Clark had been drinking at the Crown Pub, Perry Street, Northfleet when Richardson left to buy some cigarettes from a nearby petrol station, the court heard.

While he was there his brother Bill drunkenly fell into the path of Mr West's cab as he was driving along Perry Street and was knocked to the ground.

Prosecuting Gareth Nicholl said: "Bill walked out in front of the vehicle and fell to the floor and hit his head.

"The victim was sitting in his taxi in shock.

"Richardson came out of the petrol station and an unknown man said, 'that man just ran over your brother'. He was pointing his finger at the victim and gritting his teeth.

"He punched the victim and grabbed him with both hands. He punched the victim in the face and then headbutted him to the bridge of he nose."

Clark then joined the attack, throwing punches, after hearing his friend had been run over, the court heard. CCTV recorded the whole attack.

Richardson made a full and frank admission to the assault while Clark admitted his guilt after seeing the footage. He initially claimed he was too drunk to remember the incident.

After being shown the recording in police interviews, both men said it had made them feel sick. Magistrates chair Janet Cherrison committed the sentencing to Maidstone Crown Court. A date for the hearing is yet to be fixed.

jason.goodyer@archant.co.uk

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