Two teens locked up after stabbing and tasering Romford Uber driver during attempted car jacking
PUBLISHED: 17:29 03 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:29 03 February 2020
Two teenagers have been locked up for carrying out a "terrifying" attack on a Romford Uber driver which involved repeatedly stabbing and tasering the 30-year-old in an attempt to get his Mercedes Benz.
A Romford Uber driver is calling for Uber drivers to be more aware of the dangers that come with the job after he experienced the "life-changing" attempted robbery in Southgate, north London.
A 16-year-old and 17-year-old were sentenced today (Monday, February 3) at Wood Green Crown Court, while the third defendant failed to attend court and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Last year on October 11, the 30-year-old driver collected three teenage passengers from Betstyle Road, Arnos Grove near Southgate Station.
After working as an Uber driver for a year, he had recently been upgraded to an Exec driver, which meant he could charge for an expensive fare to take customers in his high-end vehicle of a Class E Mercedes-Benz.
Prosecutor Abigail Husbands told the court that the driver normally worked in the City of London, where customers are more likely to request Exec drivers.
She said: "He was a little suspicious of [the booking] because of the area but the customer had a five star rating and part of the Uber contract is that he had to keep 97per cent of bookings.
"They only wanted to go about 1.16 miles which was unusual for the jobs that he was used to doing."
The Romford driver wore a suit and always offered his customers free bottled water and chewing-gum.
Dashcam audio footage from the journey shows the teenagers asking the driver questions about the make of the car - whether it was automatic and how the payment worked for the trip.
The teens, who were all 16-years-old at the time, directed the driver to a dead-end in Ivy Road.
As soon as the car stopped, the teens attacked.
The driver told the Recorder: "They had a big knife and a taser.
"The big guy is strangling my neck with the seatbelt and they all start attacking me at the same time.
"I couldn't breathe from the tasering. If I had a heart problem I probably would have died.
"I moved my chair back and managed to move the seat belt.
"The knife is very big but the side is not too sharp. The knife fell inside the car and I locked the doors and start running away from the car."
The teenagers can be heard demanding the driver to give him the keys, but despite the violence the Uber driver was reluctant to give up the keys.
He told the Recorder: "This is my everything - it's my livelihood.
"I just couldn't give up my business."
The teenagers didn't give up and continued to chase him away from the cul-de-sac where they attacked him again in the street.
Prosecutor Husbands said: "He could hear the taser being discharged.
"He felt the same sensation in his left shoulder and it was much stronger this time.
"He described himself as being drained from energy."
Eventually the teenagers ran off without the keys and the driver fell to the floor and lost consciousness.
He was stabbed twice in the leg and his hand was cut, but he doesn't remember at what point the stabbing happened.
The driver shared how the traumatic "life-changing" experience forced him to end his job as an Uber driver and take up a new line of work
He had to take three months off to recover from his injuries and he's now struggling to sell his car which has a high mileage from his work as an Uber driver.
"Hopefully I won't see them again in my life," said the 30-year-old.
"This has changed my life completely.
"After I would watch the customers to see if they look like a nice person.
"If I felt scared my hands would start shaking and I would say sorry but I can't drive you and I would lose the job."
Ms Husbands told the court it had been a "terrifying" experience for the Uber driver and had a knock on effect on his life.
"He's had nightmares and by not being able to carry on with that work it's had a financial impact on him," she said.
"He feels in constant fear and it's had a real impact on his family"
The second attempted robbery
Two of the teenagers were involved in another robbery of a Mercedes Benz, four days later on October 16.
They were spotted by police driving a stolen vehicle and were caught in a police chase as they tried to evade officers.
After driving at speeds between 50-60mph in a 30mph zone, they crashed the car into a tree, and were both tasered and arrested by police.
One of the 16-year-olds, who is now 17, gave himself up to police and admitted his involvement in the October 11 incident.
Speaking on his behalf in court, defence lawyer Penelope Blake said: "He's at a turning point in his life.
"He has written a letter to the victim which essentially shows that this young man has matured.
"He has joined the cadets and he wants to be given the opportunity to put matters right."
Defence lawyer Ross Cohen added on behalf of the second 16-year-old: "On the one hand we have a serious offence and a number of previous offences which aggravate the offence, but on the other hand we have a young man who has had no doubt a difficult background - an incredibly abusive father who beat him and his mother.
"He was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age and suffers from post traumatic stress disorder."
But Judge Ray Singh said it was "complete and utter nonsense" that either defendant had shown any true remorse.
He told the court: "You had one sole aim between the two of you and that was to inflict violence on [the driver] so that you could take his vehicle.
"What was going through your minds was quite clear and it was only a few months ago.
"You two are extremely fortunate that you're not facing the same charge [as the third 16-year-old] because this was clearly a joint enterprise."
The 17-year-old who gave himself up to the police had pleaded guilty to attempted robbery at Magistrates' Court and was given a total of 32 months in a young offenders institution.
The second 16-year-old pleaded guilty to attempted robbery, possession of a stun gun, and for the second incident on October 16 he pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking and dangerous driving at Crown Court.
He was sentenced for a total of four years and two months also at a youth offenders institution.
The final 16-year-old pleaded guilty to attempted robbery, possession of an ornate weapon (a knife), aggravated vehicle taking and possession of four ounces of cannabis.
He failed to attend court and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Speaking outside of court, the Uber driver said he was "happy" with the sentences and that the Judge recognises the serious nature of the attack.
"I want to say to all Uber drivers, be careful," he said.
"Uber is not safe. I don't want this to happen to anyone else.
"It's so easy to book and make a profile, you don't even need to upload a photo and you can use stolen credit cards to book trips.
"It's not just me, it's happening to lots of people."