Thursday, February 26, 2009

Teens get probation for failing to pay taxi fare

From the Whig-Standard Website

Cab driver's collaring of suspects ignites argument


Two teenage girls who tried to rip off a taxi driver for a $13 fare, then fought with him and got snarly with police after the cabby chased them down and caught them, finally had their day in court.

The teens, now 18 and 17 1 /2 years old, have both been placed on probation, the older one for nine months and the younger one - who was charged in addition to violating probation - for 12 months. Each of them has also been ordered to perform 30 hours of community service and to pay $6.50 apiece in restitution to the court for the taxi fare they tried to avoid paying.

The teens were set to go to trial this week but pleaded guilty just before noon on the day of their trial to committing transportation fraud. Their pleas were made after a deal was struck between assistant Crown attorney Janet O'Brien and the father-and-son defence team of John and Chris Ecclestone.

O'Brien noted that she was agreeing to the deal partly because the case had already been set for trial on three previous occasions and Each time the victim had taken time off work to attend court.

Still, O'Brien said she wanted other young people to get the message that they can't assault someone who's making a citizen's arrest in defence of their rights.

Her comment struck a nerve with Chris Ecclestone, who represented the younger of the two girls.

He reacted as though his client was the victim.

"I would have serious concerns about taxi drivers getting the message that they can't chase people into houses and drag them out," he told the judge.

John Ecclestone went even further, suggesting that the cab driver's apprehension of the pair "had all the earmarks of a kidnapping." He also argued that the man needed a warrant before he followed his fleeing passengers into the apartment building and then held them for police.

O'Brien had told Justice Judith Beaman that the crime was committed after the cab driver was dispatched to pick up a call in the Cherry and Pine streets area.

It was 12:30 in the afternoon on June 27, 2007, and the girls at first told the driver to take them to Food Basics on Barrack Street. Then they said they wanted to go to the liquor store across the street.

When they reached their destination, however, the person they were expecting to meet wasn't there and the girls belatedly disclosed that they had no money to pay for their ride.

O'Brien said they convinced the cab driver to return them to an apartment building on Cherry Street, where he was promised they would get him his cash.

Beaman was told the cab driver insisted that one of the girls remain with the cab while the other went inside for the money. The older of the two stayed behind.

After only a few minutes, O'Brien said, the older girl suddenly bolted from the cab and ran into the building, the cab driver in pursuit.

She told the judge that he caught up with the pair at the end of a hallway, heading for an exit, and grabbed them to return them to his cab while he called police.

Beaman was told that the girls didn't go quietly, however. They kicked and screamed, scratched the taxi driver and one of them tried to bite him.

They were later described by police as abusive and unco-operative with the officers who arrested them as well.

The Ecclestones both maintained that their clients hadn't initially set out to shortchange the cab driver, even though they didn't have any money to pay for a cab when they first called Modern Taxi.

John Ecclestone said his client went to the LCBO that day expecting to be met by a woman she referred to as her "street mother." The lawyer told Beaman she thought she had an arrangement with the woman to meet at that spot and expected to be given some cash.

The problem arose, he said, when her "street mother" was "a complete no-show."

He also observed that the assault charges originally laid against his client and her friend had not gone ahead, causing him to bristle at the suggestion that any delay in bringing the case to trial was attributable to the defence.

In fact, he said, had there been no resolution and the case hadn't gone ahead this time, he would have brought a motion to have the charges shelved because of unreasonable delay in its prosecution.

Beaman finally stepped in to referee, telling the lawyers "we double-book all the time." She suggested the delay that caused wasn't anyone's fault.

She appeared to agree with the younger Ecclestone that the cab driver should not have chased the girls into the apartment building, but she told the girls,"you should not have got into the cab without the money to pay for it."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cab owner defends driver

From the Kingston Whig-Standard Website


The owner of Kingston's biggest cab company says one of his drivers has been unfairly criticized after passengers he was ferrying savagely beat a man on Bath Road.

"I think what he did was appropriate," Mark Greenwood, owner of Amey's Taxi, said yesterday.

Greenwood said the driver did what was necessary to protect himself in a volatile situation.

He said the company has received calls and complaints from people who wrongly want to blame the driver.

"He is shaken up," Greenwood said. "He's also a little concerned that one of these guys is going to be looking for him."

The driver was heading east on Bath Road about 1 a. m. Sunday after picking up six men in his van at a west-end bar.

They appeared agitated and were looking for a friend, but left the bar before finding him.

As the taxi approached Tanner Drive, the cabbie heard one of his passengers say, "There he is," and the sliding door of the van began to open.

The driver pulled over and watched two of his passengers stumble across the road to where two men were fighting. Four men remained in the taxi, Greenwood said.

The cab driver was frightened by what he saw, as the three assailants pummelled a victim for about a minute.

"He just witnessed a really brutal assault," Greenwood said. "He wants to get them out of the van as soon as possible."

The three men who had participated in the assault got back in the taxi and the cab driver pulled away. He could see that other cars had stopped, including another taxi, to help the victim of the attack.

The cabbie assumed that one of those other people who had stopped was calling police.

The driver feared he'd be assaulted if he called 911 or if he tried to eject the drunken passengers from the taxi.

"He didn't want to agitate anyone in the vehicle by trying to contact the police himself [or put] his own life in jeopardy when he knew the guy was going to be looked after and that someone had probably called the police," Greenwood said.

Before the cab reached its destination, police pulled it over on Concession Street, where they arrested the three men who participated in the assault.

Greenwood said police had called the Amey's dispatch office and the taxi was quickly located because it is GPS equipped.

The victim of the attack, a 28-year-old St. Lawrence College student, suffered a host of injuries, including a possible broken nose.

His assailants were charged with assault causing bodily harm.

Copyright © 2009 The Whig Standard

Monday, February 09, 2009

Two men beaten in brutal attacks

From the Kingston Whig-Standard Website

Student, cabbie victims of assaults

A St. Lawrence College student was sent to hospital early yesterday morning following a brutal beating in the city's west end.

It was the second violent attack police investigated on the weekend. A 43-year-old Kingston man is facing assault charges after a attacking a cab driver early Saturday morning.

The college student wasn't robbed, but his attackers left him lying bleeding and beaten in a snowbank along Bath Road, police said.

The three men arrested and charged in the assault were drunk at the time, police said, and had never met the victim.

"Nobody knew him. These guys just picked him out," said Sgt. Alex Forsyth of the Kingston Police.

Forsyth said one of the attackers didn't even recall the attack after sobering up overnight in a police cell.

Police said the victim had gone to Ottawa with some friends for a stag party and returned to a home on Days Road before deciding to call it a night. He told his friends that he was going to walk home.

The 28-year-old man, who is from Kingston, was walking along Bath Road near Tanner when the attack took place.

Police said the victim heard someone run up from behind him before he felt a blow to the back of his head. The attacker then punch him in the face.

An Amey's taxi pulled up near the attack and let out two men. Police said the two men grabbed the victim and held him to the ground while the original attacker punch the victim in the face and body.

The beating r about a minute, police said, before the men hopped back into the taxi and drove off.

T he victim was left in the snowbank

with a deep cut on his lip, severe bruising to his temples, a possible broken nose and burns from being rubbed against the roadway, police said.

A witness at the scene called police. Officers were able to stop the cab carrying the three assailants. Forsyth said officers noticed blood on the men's hands, clothes and footwear.

Two of the men are 24 years old, the other 36. All are from Kingston.

They were taken for a bail hearing yesterday. The three men have been charged with assault causing bodily harm.

Police said the taxi driver was not involved in the attack.


Police said the attack on the cabbie early Saturday morning stemmed from a dispute over the fare for the ride, which amounted to less than $8.

Police said a Kingston and Amherst Taxi driver picked up a fare around 3:50 a. m. Saturday at Concession Street and Leroy Grant Drive. The passenger told the driver to take him to a home on Rosemund Crescent near Sir John A. Macdonald and John Counter boulevards.

When the taxi arrived at the home, the male passenger started a dispute over the cost of the ride -$7.50. Police said the passenger then confronted the driver and became violent.

Police said the man threatened to harm the driver, even shouting at one point that he would "punch [the driver] out."

Police said the passenger then grabbed the driver and hit him several times in the side of the head with a closed fist.

The attacker then grabbed the keys out of the ignition of the car and threw them into a nearby snowbank. He then grabbed the victim by his hair and started punching the driver in the head again as the attack tside the vehicle.

The driver was able to push the man into the snowbank, which slowed the attacker down for only a moment, police said. The attacker stood back up, police said, and ating on the taxi driver.

Police said two females in the area pulled the attacker off the driver before officers arrived.

Police said the driver had a bloody lip and marks from punches visible on his temple.

Police said the 43-year-old accused was drunk. He was held in a police cell overnight and released with conditions, with a date to appear in court in March.

Copyright © 2009 The Whig Standard