A SECOND violent assault on a Tamworth taxi driver in six days has renewed calls for taxis to boycott areas of West Tamworth after dark.
In the latest incident, the 55-year-old male driver suffered head injuries when he was physically assaulted after he responded to a call early yesterday morning.
At 2.30am, the driver arrived at an address in Donald St and was met by three men wearing dark, hooded clothing who used an unknown item, believed to be a brick, to attack the man through the window of his cab.
The driver was also punched numerous times during the assault.
The men climbed into the cab where they stole a small amount of the man’s takings for the night and led the scene. They were last seen running along Lorraine St.
The taxi driver was taken to Tamworth hospital where he was treated for a suspected fractured eye socket and other injuries.
A week ago, another taxi driver escaped an attempted robbery after he was called to a Tingira St address just after 5am on Saturday.
After stopping at the address, a brick was thrown at the driver, hitting him on the arm and after the driver got out to confront the man, another appeared and demanded money from the driver.
The man got back into the cab and drove away from the scene and suffered minor lacerations to his arm in the incident.
Oxley Local Area Command Crime Manager Inspector Phil O’Reilly said at a press conference yesterday, detectives were investigating possible links between the incidents, and were examining evidence from the taxi.
“We hope to be able to use images from the CCTV footage and detect our persons of interest,” Inspector O’Reilly said.
Tamworth Radio Cabs Cooperative, secretary Brian O’Sullivan said the two incidents were concerning and not something that any taxi driver should have to face.
“We’re always concerned with the safety of our drivers; fortunately it’s not something that happens every night,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
He said that all cabs had an emergency system installed which was monitored 24 hours a day by an independent security firm and the taxi company.
Mr O’Sullivan said he was aware that drivers avoided certain areas of Tamworth and said it was up to them to decide their own rules.
“Everyone is aware of problems in certain areas of Tamworth and some areas are just worse than others. It is up to the driver to decide if they want to accept a fare,” he said.
He called for the Tamworth Crime Prevention Committee to address the crime issue, saying perhaps it could get involved.
“Something has to be done about it. We have a Crime Prevention Committee in Tamworth, don’t we? Maybe it’s time they got involved.”
A 15-year veteran taxi driver in Tamworth said it was an unspoken rule among cab drivers to avoid calls to certain areas of West Tamworth after dark.
“There are some drivers that will go in. Certain streets are okay, Ridge and Macgregor are fine, but I won’t go to Kenny Dr or Tingira St after dark and I know a lot of drivers feel the same,” said the driver, who wished to remain anonymous.
“I’ve had rocks thrown at my cab lots of times, I’ve been dragged out of my seat by angry and abusive passengers.”
He said he believed the problem was due to a small amount of troublemakers but said the main instigators were kids.
“It’s been a problem for years, but it’s definitely getting worse and something needs to be done about it,” he said.
He said that drivers were told to report all incidents but a lot of them had stopped bothering reporting the rock-throwing, as it happened so frequently.
“If you look at any cab in the rank you will see little scratches and dents all over them. It’s from the railway ballast from the lines in West Tamworth.”
Although every cab had CCTV installed, he said that they were “only good for catching people after the fact”.
“I don’t believe they work as a deterrent.”
Meanwhile, detectives from Oxley Local Area Command are investigating both incidents and calling for witnesses to the crimes.