Bafta-winning Misfits actress Lauren Socha sentenced for racist attack on taxi driver

 

A taxi driver said he has been left "distraught" after a drunk Bafta-winning actress racially abused him and punched him when he picked her up in his cab.

Misfits star Lauren Socha, 21, who won a Bafta for her role as Kelly Bailey in the Channel 4 TV series, assaulted Sakander Iqbal in Derby city centre after a nine-hour pub drinking session in the early hours of October 1.

Married Mr Iqbal, 52, was in the city's Crown Court today where Socha pleaded guilty to racially aggravated assault by beating, and said he had never experienced such abuse in his 22 years as a taxi driver.

He said: "She called me a P***, a dirty b****** and said: 'You're Asian, f*** off back to where you came from.'

"She said: 'Do you know who I am? I'll have your family lifted."'

He went on: "I've been doing this job for 20 years and I've never been put in that kind of situation before, so it was really upsetting."

He played reporters the recording he made on his mobile phone of her eight-minute rant, littered with swear words and racist remarks.

Socha, who appeared in court wearing no make-up, with her dark hair piled into a bun on top of her head, and in a black dress and cream fur jacket, originally denied the assault but changed her plea to guilty today.

She sat in the dock and wiped away tears as details of her case were discussed.

Judge Hilary Watson sentenced her to four months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and told her: "Your conduct on that night was despicable and Mr Iqbal rightly brought it to the attention of the police and then the courts."

She added: "When heavily in drink and pumped up you chose to express yourself in that despicable way."

Socha, of Meadowgrass Close in Littleover, Derby, won best supporting actress at the Baftas in 2011 for her Misfits role, the only prize for the comedy drama about superhero teen delinquents which had led the shortlist with four nominations.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Iqbal, who has lived in the UK since 1970, has two children and works for Chad Cars, said the experience had left him incredibly upset and wary.

"It made me feel absolutely terrible.

"I'm extra careful now whenever I pick anybody up in my taxi.

"It's left me really distraught."

Socha was told by the judge she must carry out 80 hours of community service, pay £450 to Mr Iqbal in compensation and pay £750 court costs.

As she left court she said she would not talk to reporters but said: "Of course I care," when asked if she was concerned by what she had done to Mr Iqbal.

Her mother, Kathleen Lyons, spoke on her behalf, saying: "She's very, very sorry for all the distress she's caused to Mr Iqbal and his family.

"She's grateful to the courts for giving her the opportunity to put this behind her and move on with her life and her career.

"This isn't like Lauren, anyone that knows Lauren will tell you that this is so out of character.

"It's an awful incident that happened and nobody should have been put through what Mr Iqbal was put through on that night.

"She takes full responsibility for her actions and she's deeply sorry for this."

Judge Watson said the racial aspect of the incident was so serious it crossed the custody threshold when considering sentence, even though she would suspend it.

She told Socha, who put her head in her hands as the judge spoke to her: "Derby, like any multicultural city or town, cannot tolerate such victimisation of one part of its community.

"Society simply cannot accept and tolerate such racist comments even if they are said while heavily intoxicated and bitterly regretted once sober."

The court heard that Socha had been drinking wine and lager in the Abbey pub in Darley Abbey from 5pm until 2am before the incident happened.

Mr Iqbal, of Rosehill Street in Normanton, said she was in the back of his taxi when she started abusing him and leaned over to punch him on the left side of his face.

Describing the chain of events, he said he picked Socha and her friend up from Darley Abbey on the night of the assault.

He dropped her friend off before making his way to Littleover to drop Socha off when she started saying he was taking her the wrong way.

He said: "On the way back, because she'd had a bit to drink, because her senses weren't right, she goes to me: 'Where are you taking me, you should have gone right there' and I said: 'I'm taking you home, I know what I'm doing', and she just lost it.

Janine Smith, senior district crown prosecutor at CPS East Midlands said: "Lauren Socha has at last pleaded guilty to racially aggravated common assault in the face of overwhelming evidence against her.

"Her behaviour that night last October was just shameful, and not what we should expect from someone in the public eye.

"Racism and violence are completely unacceptable and the law protects people from this kind of abuse. I hope that this case will make people sit up and take notice that, no matter who you are, if you become racially abusive or violent, you are likely to find yourself facing prosecution."

PA

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little