Thugs rob taxi driver of his phone after he uses it to show pictures of his children

The Bolton News: Bolton Crown Court Bolton Crown Court

A TAXI driver was robbed by passengers after he used his mobile phone to show their friend pictures of his children, a court was told.

A jury at Bolton Crown Court heard how Salim Umerji was driving his Toyota Avensis for Metro Taxis on June 15 last year when he got a call to go to Singleton Avenue, Horwich, at 1.30am.

Geoff Whelan, prosecuting, said three men and a woman got into the car and asked to be taken to Tesco at Middlebrook.

While the three men, who included 26-year-old Andrew Abbott and 20-year-old Matthew Bailey, were in the store buying a crate of beer, Mr Umerji waited in the pick-up area outside the store and chatted to the woman, who was called Naomi.

He showed her photographs of his children on his iPhone 5.

After 15 minutes the three men returned, with Abbott and Bailey sitting in the rear of the car, and asked to be taken back to Singleton Avenue.

But Mr Whelan said that during the journey the men started whispering to each other and asked the taxi driver to stop at the end of Albert Street, Horwich.

When Mr Umerji stopped his car, Abbott is said to have grabbed his shoulder and pulled at his T-shirt, while Bailey got out of the car and punched the driver in the head through an open window.

Bailey reached into the vehicle, grabbed the iPhone, which was worth £350, and all four ran off down an alleyway and into a field.

As he was attacked, Mr Umerji’s foot caught on the accelerator pedal and the car shot forward, scraping along a wall.

Police identified Bailey and Abbott from CCTV footage at Tesco and, when questioned, Abbott admitted being in the car, but said he and his friends had only run off without paying, and had not robbed the driver.

“He said he couldn’t remember why they decided to do this as they had money,” said Mr Whelan.

Mr Umerji told the court: “The phone was given to me by my wife and has all my kids’ pictures inside it.

“I was so shocked it was untrue.”

Abbott, of Ormston Avenue, Horwich, and Bailey, of Lowndes Street, Heaton, plead not guilty to robbery.

The case continues.

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