Customer hit taxi driver in row over £3
JOBLESS Christopher Cartlidge beat up a taxi driver over a disputed fare.
The 26-year-old also stole £38 from Abdul Kalik after assaulting him in his taxi, at the end of a night of drinking.
But Cartlidge avoided a prison sentence at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court yesterday after admitting to assault by beating and theft.
Cartlidge, of Kingsfield Road, Basford, previously denied the offences but entered last-minute guilty pleas on the second day of his trial last month.
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Prosecutor Paul Spratt told the court that Mr Kalik had been waiting outside the former Circus Casino in Hanley in the early hours of July 14, last year.
Mr Cartlidge got into the vehicle and asked to be taken to Basford, and according to his basis of plea, the two men agreed a fare of £4.
But when the taxi arrived in Basford Mr Kalik asked for £7, and an argument ensued.
Cartlidge punched Mr Kalik several times, and when he got out of the car he took a bag containing the money.
Mr Spratt said: “Mr Kalik suffered injuries in the assault, including swelling to the face and head.
“He did not resume his duties that night, and Mr Cartlidge was his first fare of the night.”
The court heard that Cartlidge had no previous convictions.
Paul Cliff, mitigating, said: “This assault was not premeditated. There was an argument over a fare, and Mr Cartlidge lost his temper. There is no doubt that drink played a significant part in that.
“He now accepts that the violence he used against the victim was entirely unacceptable. He is remorseful for the injuries he caused to the victim. He accepts that some compensation is due.
“As far as the theft is concerned, it was a foolish decision.”
Mr Cliff said the defendant previously had a good employment record, but was currently out of work and so would have to borrow money from his father to pay compensation.
Cartlidge had been looking to emigrate to Canada, where he has family, but Mr Cliff said his client feared his conviction could prevent this.
Judge Robert Trevor-Jones sentenced Cartlidge to a 12-month community order, and told him to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
He also ordered the defendant to pay Mr Kalik £500 in compensation.
Judge Trevor-Jones said: “Taxi drivers provide a valuable public service, but they do so in what can be a vulnerable situation, especially late at night when their customers are worse for wear for drink. On this particular night a dispute arose over a fare, and without explanation or reason you punched out several times.”