Wednesday 13 November 2019

Taxi driver 'works in fear' after knife held to his throat

Ordeal: The assailant holds a knife to the throat of the taximan in the terrifying robbery
Ordeal: The assailant holds a knife to the throat of the taximan in the terrifying robbery
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A taxi driver who was robbed at knifepoint by a passenger has told how he suffered physically, mentally and financially following his terrifying ordeal.

Nishu Bhagat picked up a passenger on October 10 at St James's Hospital, Dublin.

Just as he pulled over to drop the passenger off at an estate in Tallaght, a knife was held to his throat and the man demanded he hand over his phone and money.

"Give me every euro you have... get it, get it, get it, give me coins, everything," the man can be heard shouting on the CCTV footage.

He took Mr Bhagat's coin pouch which contained €120 in cash, his Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and wallet. The man then fled the scene on foot and Mr Bhagat immediately called gardaí.

Speaking to Independent.ie, the father-of-one says he now looks at every passenger "with doubt".

"It is really hard being back to work. What happened is always on my mind and I worry about it happening again, especially when a passenger sits on the back seat."

Mr Bhagat said he was also left significantly out of pocket following the incident.

"I wasn't able to work for a couple of days, as gardaí had to take my car to check it for fingerprints," he said.

"It was really terrifying what happened. When I stopped, he held my neck from the back and put a knife to my throat. I have scratches on my hand from trying to keep the knife away from my neck."

Mr Bhagat has been working as a taxi driver in Dublin for over three years and says he installed CCTV in his car due to the number of times passengers ran off without paying.

"Many times people run off and don't pay the money but I have never been attacked before. It's very hard to survive in Dublin - bills are very high, and you have to continue to work, so I had to go back as soon as I could to make up for the money I lost."

A Garda spokeswoman confirmed investigations are ongoing.

"Gardaí are investigating a robbery of a taxi driver on October 10, 2018, at around 12.50am at Birchwood Heights, Tallaght. A male passenger threatened the driver with what's believed to have been a knife and demanded cash. The suspected offender fled on foot with a sum of cash and other items."

A source confirmed the suspected thief is not from the Birchwood Heights area.

The Irish Taxi Drivers' Federation says drivers are taking a risk every time they pick up someone, as they don't know who they are dealing with.

"Because of the nature of the job, and being with someone on a one-to-one basis, particularly in suburban areas, it can be a real danger to taxi drivers," a spokesperson said.

"It is part-and-parcel of the job but most taxi drivers tend to try as far as they can to vet the person they're picking up. As you know, dangerous people don't always look like dangerous people."

Irish Independent

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