Redruth taxi driver racially abused and attacked after snowball fight
Kane Christopher Powell punched and racially abused Mohammed Shah in an attack described by a judge as ‘despicable’
A drunken 20-year-old man racially abused and attacked a taxi driver who had been enjoying a snowball fight.
The attack happened back in March and Kane Christopher Powell at first pretended he was joining in the wintry fun.
But a court heard Powell, of Higher Fore Street, Reduth, became violent and – backed by another man – attacked the taxi driver and called him a ‘paki’.
The two attackers then chased him down the street and tried to force their way into a house where the taxi driver had sought shelter. They smashed the front door while those inside tried to hold it closed.
Powell appeared at Truro Crown Court for sentence having previously pleaded guilty to common assault and racially aggravated threatening behaviour against Mohammed Shah and criminal damage to a door.
Prosecutor Philip Lee said: “It was late at night on March 1. It had been snowing. Mr Shah is a taxi driver and during a break in the evening, he and other drivers were throwing snow at each other.
“This defendant approached, initially seeming to join in and feigning joviality. ‘I am only joking,’ he said but soon became aggressive. He punched Mr Shah three times in the chest and then another person became involved, a Mr Webb, the absent co-defendant in this case who is wanted on a warrant.”
He said Mr Shah pushed Powell away and started to walk away. He added: “This defendant ran up behind him and punched him once to the face, causing him to fall to the ground with a cut to his lip.”
Mr Shah retreated to seek help from an Indian restaurant in Higher Fore Street but was followed by Powell and Webb.
Mr Lee said Powell was heard shouting ‘pakis’ and said: “Mr Powell accused Mr Shah of doing something sexual with his sister. There is no substance to that allegation, the crown says.”
He said Mr Shah was taken inside the house of the restaurant manager, Sultan Ahmed, but Powell and Webb began shouting and kicking forcibly at the door.
“At one point they forced the door open while the others behind where pinning the door closed. A further assault by the other man took place before both walked away,” he said.
He said Powell was later arrested and said to police: “Yeah, I banged him out, so what?”
The court heard from the Probation Service that Powell was drunk at the time and admitted he was suffering from an alcohol problem. He said that since March he had taken steps to address this problem.
Powell had moved to Cornwall from London at the age of 15, when his mother, who has alcohol issues, refused to pay for his return train ticket. The court heard he had been to school and college and now worked a carer for an autistic friend who he had met while they were both homeless on the streets.
Hollie Gilbery, representing Powell, said he had only a patchy memory of the evening, adding: “He cannot recall using the language described and he was quite shocked at using that language, but does not seek to deny the evidence of the police officers.”
She added that Powell himself had been the victim of a serious assault involving the use of baseball bats the previous summer.
Addressing Powell, Judge Simon Carr said: “As I hope you’ve learned and are prepared to accept, your behaviour that night was despicable. You had been drinking heavily with a group of young men who had also been drinking.”
He said they targeted Mr Shah, adding: “For reasons, in truth only you will be able to understand, you became verbally abusive and violent, assaulting him and punching him a number of times.”
He said Mr Shah and the other men sheltering in the house must have been terrified to have them battering down the door.
Judge Carr said it was unacceptable that the prosecution had taken so long for the case to come to court. He warned that if he had been sentencing Powell sooner, he would have sent him to prison. However, he acknowledged that Powell had taken positive steps since March to turn his life around.
Powell was handed an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
He was also made the subject of a curfew at home between 7pm and 7am for six months and must do 15 days’ work with the Probation Service on a range of programmes looking at a range of issues such as behaviour, impact on victims and substance misuse.
Powell was also ordered to pay £500 compensation to Mr Shah.