A BASINGSTOKE man has announced his “taxi career is over” after he says passengers destroyed his vehicle when refusing to pay £22.50 for their journey last weekend.

The Hackney carriage driver has decided to retire from 23 years of service after he was allegedly attacked by two men who failed to pay their fare from Basingstoke Station to New Road, Tadley on Saturday. 

The father-of-three, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Gazette that once he asked for the payment the pair kicked out the back window and smashed the passenger window as well as the protective guard between the front and back seat.

He said: “As I was pulling away, one of them through a huge rock through the window, that missed me by inches. If I hadn’t driven away when I did I probably wouldn’t be talking to you today.” 

"They caused at least £3,000 worth of damage to the car and that's only if it doesn't get written off. As a self employed driver I just can't afford to keep it going anymore."

Officers are currently investigating the report of criminal damage to a Mercedes Vito between 11.30pm and 11.45pm  on February 15 outside Tadley Health and Fitness Centre.

The victim was left feeling scared and vulnerable after the attack adding that he now fears for his safety. 

“As part of the job we wear badges on the front window with our full name and personal details on it, people can very easily look you up and track you down if they want to. 

“Even if they didn’t [look me up] it’s not going to be difficult for them to find me, we wait outside the station to pick up customers. I just can’t risk it anymore.”

The motorist was utterly shocked by the lack of support from the police, spending more than 40 minutes on hold to 101 after the attack only to be told to "go home".

“They just told me to drive home because I wasn’t injured” he said “So I did, I had to travel home with water leaking into my car and shards of glass blowing in my face.”

But this isn’t the first incident his taxi has been vandalised, the motorist had his vehicle stolen outside of his house when he worked in London back in 2015. 

“It’s just not safe anymore,” he added, “and if something like this can happen in a little town like Basingstoke then who knows how dangerous it is elsewhere.” 

Hampshire Constabulary have been contacted for a comment.

Mick Gilluley, chairman of the Basingstoke Taxi Drivers Association, said: “I’m absolutely devastated at his decision, he’s been driving for so long, we really don’t want to lose him. 

“After the attack, many of our drivers have refused to deliver to Tadley anymore, they just don’t feel safe taking customers there.” 

Head of Interim Licensing at the Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council (BDBC)visited the taxi firm on Monday morning to reassure employees that they are safe to operate in Basingstoke borough, labelling this incident a “one off.”

Drivers have been trained to assess the risks of any new clients within 30 seconds of picking up rider, but Mick notes that this training isn’t good enough. 

The 50-year-old family man said: “Sometimes people will be nice and chatty the whole journey home right up until they have to pay for it - they turn into someone else entirely.”

“We’re just trying to make a living like everyone else and it's our job to make sure drunk people get home safe, we understand that, but that doesn’t mean we should be subject to any sort of abuse.”

Since the incident occurred last weekend, Mick has made a change to how the drivers operate with customers travelling to Tadley.

“We will now be asking that customers wanting to go to Tadley to pay for the fair upfront before departure for the safety of our drivers.”

The former taxi driver advised other employees to be very very careful when operating at night, especially private hire drivers who don't have the same level of protection black cab drivers have. 

"Make sure you use a dashcam, I avoided it because they cost around £150 which seems like a waste of money at first, but when you really need them they're vital to catching the criminals.

"If I had had one installed at the beginning then we probably would have caught [the culprits] by now."  

If you witnessed the attack or have any further information on the incident please call 101, quoting 44200059436. 

Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.