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Thugs threaten to kill Blackburn cabbie
A TAXI driver was put in a head lock as ‘thugs’ repeatedly smashed a beer can over his head and demanded cash.
Father-of-two Muzammal Hussain said he was terrified when two passengers pulled on the handbrake of his cab while it was moving and threatened to kill him.
The men grabbed around £200 in takings and ran off.
Following the incident taxi associations said they were becoming worried about an increase in attacks on drivers and urged them to have cameras installed in their cabs.
Mr Hussain, 37, was called to pick up two men from Ermine Close, in Blackburn, around 3.15am yesterday.
After travelling about a mile to Pilmuir Road, the customers, who were with a large grey dog, told Mr Hussain, of Eastwood Street, to get out of his Citroen Xsara.
But when he refused and continued driving, one of the men pulled on the handbrake forcing the car to stop while the other grabbed him around the neck.
Mr Hussain said: “They said ‘if you don’t get out, my dog is going to eat you and we will kill you’.
“I said you can kill me, but I will not get out.
“Then they hit me with a beer can on my head. One of them had their arm around my neck.
“I drove the car very quickly and they pulled the handbrake. They took around £200 and ran off.”
Mr Hussain, who works for City Taxis, said the attack had left him feeling so nervous that he would no longer work after dark.
He said: “I feel very bad. It is not safe to work as a taxi driver here.
“This is the third time this kind of thing has happened to me in the last couple of weeks.”
Mr Hussain, who has been a taxi driver for around seven months, was left with bumps and bruises, but did not need hospital treatment.
His wife Shazia Malik said she often feared for her husband’s safety when he was working late at night.
The 37-year-old factory supervisor said: “It could have been a lot worse.
“I do not know how he got away with it, especially as somebody was trying to strangle him.
“I did not want him to do this job in the first place. I worry about him when he goes out.”
Umar Talaty, secretary of the Blackburn with Darwen Private Hire Association, said more and more drivers were being attacked.
He said: “There is a problem and it’s starting to increase because the cost of living is going up.
“People say they can afford to pay for the taxi but they can’t, especially late at night with revellers.
“Private hire vehicles are more vulnerable because there’s no protection.
“CCTV is a good deterrent but it’s up to the driver who is working night shifts to put it in, which is expensive.”
Charlie Oakes, chair of the Hackney Drivers Association, said: “Attacks on drivers are on the increase.
“It’s not just in Blackburn, it’s all over.
“I would urge drivers not to keep cash in significant amounts in their vehicle.
“I don’t know what sort of mentally the attackers have got, but they need to be dealt with.
“They are not fit to be out on the street.”
The passengers were both described as being around 25 to 30-years-old.
One was around 5ft 5ins tall, had short black hair, was clean shaven and was wearing an off-white jumper and jeans.
The other was of slim build and around 6ft tall.
He had dark brown hair and was wearing a dark grey jumper and jeans.
Det Insp Nikki Bithell said: “This was a vicious attack on the taxi driver and was led by greed.
“The driver was simply doing an honest night’s work for his takings.
“They leaned forward, got him in a head lock and hit him with a beer can over the head.”
Anybody with information should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
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