Taxi drivers need ‘tin suit and crash helmet’

Taxi driver Martin Stewart whose car was damaged by a gang of youths on Saturday night
Taxi driver Martin Stewart whose car was damaged by a gang of youths on Saturday night

A Derry man whose taxi was attacked by a gang of youths at the weekend has said taxi drivers need a ‘tin suit and crash helmet’ to work at night in the city.

A brick was thrown at Martin Stewart’s taxi as he drove along the Skeoge Road on Saturday night shortly after 10pm.

It caused substantial damage to the wing mirror of the vehicle and Mr Stewart lost a weekend’s earnings as a result.

Mr Stewart, who has been a taxi driver for 16 years and works for City Cabs, told the ‘Journal’ that those responsible were aged between nine and 14-years-old.

“There was between 15 and 20 young people ‘playing chicken’ on the road and as I was driving past I heard this bang. I thought I had hit one of them but then I realised the glass from the wing mirror had come right in on top of me and I stopped the car. It could have caused a major accident”

Mr Stewart, who had been driving with the window down, believes the young people were ‘aiming’ for him with the brick rather than the car.

The experienced driver phoned police immediately and he was advised to leave the scene.

He said that as he did so the young people were ‘roaring and shouting, firing more stuff at the car’.

Mr Stewart said he has always worked at night but these days taxi drivers ‘need to put on a tin suit and crash helmet. It has got too, too dangerous to work at night. This kind of thing is going on every weekend.

“I am at a crossroads now and have to question whether I move to working during the day or give up taxiing completely. People are always complaining they can’t get a taxi at night but it has got too dangerous for drivers.”

Mr Stewart said that dash cams would act as a deterrent, but it would cost around £300 for drivers to install the necessary equipment.

Police in Foyle have confirmed that enquiries into the incident are continuing and have appealed for information.

Sergeant Johnston said: “We are appealing to anyone with any information to contact police in Foyle on 101 quoting reference number 1472 1/9/18 or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous.”