A taxi driver today told how he feared for his life after a group of passengers launched a racist attack on him before threatening to “take him down a side street and kill him”.
During the terrifying incident, father–of-five Muhammed Hussain, from Holme Slack, Preston, was spat at, punched in the face, grabbed around the neck and called racist names.
His attackers even threatened to cut off his beard.
The Miller’s taxi driver, who has been in the trade for 10 years, gave evidence in Urdu via an interpreter at the trial of his attackers, Shaun Burns, 19, of Mayfield Avenue, Ingol, and Callum Tennant, 20, who lives with his grandparents on Marshall Grove, Ingol.
Preston Magistrates Court found both men guilty of racially aggravated assault and criminal damage to the taxi, which was kicked and dented when Mr Hussain pulled over to let them out at Lane Ends pub in Ashton.
Burn’s girlfriend Bryanne-Serrita Langham, 22, of Sylvancroft, Ingol, pleaded guilty to criminal damage to a taxi and making off without paying the £4.50 fare.
Today Mr Hussain, 36, told the Evening Post: “I thought they were going to kill me.
“This is the first time someone has been so violent towards me. It is out of order particularly being spat on – that was an insult. I believe it was because I am a Muslim. I was scared for my life.”
Mr Hussain had picked up the group from Marshall Grove on December 28, last year.
Prosecuting, Alison Quanbrough told the court: “Two men and a woman got into the taxi. As soon as they set off they became abusive to him.
“On stopping, one pulled off his Bluetooth headset. Mr Hussain turned around and looked at the man. He then spat in his face and punched him.
“The front seat passenger, Mr Burns, held him around the neck and he thought he was trying to choke him.
“The woman and man in the back seat got out and began to kick the taxi. Mr Hussain remained in his taxi and called an English speaking friend to ask him to ring the police on his behalf.”
In evidence, Mr Hussain said: “I could not understand it. He punched me again. I started feeling dizzy and then the person in the front grabbed my neck.”
The court heard in police interviews both men denied using racist language, assault or kicking the taxi.
Both claimed the taxi driver had actually punched Burns in the eye.
When asked about Miss Langham’s role, her boyfriend told police: “She’s not the classiest chick but she wouldn’t go round gobbing on people’s cars.”
Both admitted they were drunk and could not remember much of the incident.
Tennant, who denied the offences, told the court he had consumed eight cans of beer and some Malibu, but “would not bring trouble like that to his grandparent’s front door.”
Miss Janice Valance, defending him, said it was hard to believe a taxi driver with 10 years experience would not have pulled over or gone straight to the police.
And Mr Anthony Dickinson, defending Burns, put it to Mr Hussain he was lying about what happened.
But Chris Blackwell, chairman of the magistrates’ bench, said: “Mr Hussain’s evidence on oath was consistent, clear and credible and we’ve no reason to believe he fabricated what happened.”
All three will be sentenced at a later date.