15 October 2005

Taxi stoned by kids aged eight

Belfast Telegraph

Livelihoods are being put at risk by these attacks

By Brian Hutton
newsdesk@belfasttelegraph.co.uk
15 October 2005

A TAXI driver targeted by brick-throwing children in Belfast last night warned that people's livelihoods are under threat from the attackers.

The driver, who does not want to be named, said he will have to pay out around £1,000 for damage caused to his cab during a recent incident.

He was travelling past Stewart Street in the Markets area of the city when he claims up to 15 youngsters emerged throwing bricks at him in a unprovoked onslaught.

The man claims children as young as eight years old were deliberately singling out taxi firms from the east of the city.

"I cannot afford to fix my car at the moment and will have to continue working as it is," he said. "I cannot go through my insurance company because my premium would then go through the roof and I would be out of business.

"I was told I can claim from the Northern Ireland Office, but as far as I'm concerned it's a waste of time.

"It would take me up to three years to get any of the money.

"The bottom line is that it will have to come out of my own pocket."

He warned that, if the attacks continue, it is only a matter of time before he or one of his colleagues loses their business. "If there were any customers in the back of my car at the time of the incident they could have put in a claim against me and I would be off the road.

"That would be my livelihood lost," he said.

The taxi driver alleged similar incidents have been happening sporadically for the past four weeks and he accused police of "passing the buck" over the issue.

"I stopped a police Land Rover afterwards on Castlereagh Street. They said it wasn't their area. I ended up going to Strandtown Police Station. I filled in a form for damages and went back a few days later to make a full statement but was told I didn't need to because they have CCTV footage."

It is understood that a second taxi driver reported a similar stone-throwing incident. A police spokesman confirmed that two incidents were reported to them and that a record was taken of both.

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