Police officer racially abused taxi driver, court told

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The Independent Online

A senior police officer racially abused a taxi driver, calling him "a lying Paki bastard" after a row over a fare, a court heard today.

Detective Inspector Gary Tomlinson, 47, was returning home from a night out in Derby to celebrate promotion when he allegedly insulted Mohammed Anwar, who accused him of failing to pay the last 90p of his fare.

Chesterfield Magistrates' Court heard that Mr Anwar recorded 90 seconds of the alleged tirade on his mobile phone, but the recording did not include any racial abuse.

Mr Anwar told the court: "My passenger gave me £25 in a £20 note and a £5 note and then he opened the door. As he was making his way out I reminded him that he owed another 90p.

"He reacted very badly and he said that he gave me £40, but I said 'I'm sorry, its not £40, its £25 you gave me'.

"From there he used a racial word and was using bad language. He said 'I am a police officer and I am going to do you'. He said 'You are a lying bastard, you're a lying Paki bastard, you are'.

"I was scared, I was just trying to defend myself as it was only £25 he gave me. I was trying to be there mentally while someone was kicking and punching the (taxi partition) screen.

"I held up my mobile phone (to record the abuse) because it was a taxi driver's word against that of a senior police officer and no-one was going to believe a taxi driver.

"He said 'Put that away you wanker'."

Tomlinson, of Hartshorne, Derbyshire, denies racially aggravated harassment and an alternative charge of using threatening words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

The alleged incident happened in Hartshorne, in the early hours of July 31 last year.

Tomlinson, of Derbyshire Constabulary, was celebrating an imminent promotion to Detective Chief Inspector.

The court heard that Tomlinson had drunk several pints of bitter, half a glass of champagne and a couple of lagers during a night out with colleagues.

He then made his way to the Victoria Street taxi rank in Derby and got into Mr Anwar's yellow hackney carriage.

Tomlinson's solicitor Jonathan Taaffe claimed his client had asked to be taken to Hartshorne, but Mr Anwar said he was told to drive to nearby Swadlincote.

Towards the end of the ten-mile journey, which usually costs about £20, Tomlinson told Mr Anwar that he had been "had over". Tomlinson believed the fare should have cost less than the £25.90 he was charged.

Tomlinson claimed he was locked in the taxi by Mr Anwar and that a rattling noise heard on the mobile phone recording was him trying to get out of the taxi and not him punching the partition.

Mr Taaffe asked Mr Anwar, a 42-year-old father-of-two, whether he called police "to get them on his side" after realising that Tomlinson was a senior officer.

The lawyer said: "Never ever on any occasion did Mr Tomlinson abuse you racially, did he?"

Mr Anwar replied: "That's wrong."

Mr Taaffe added: "On the 31st you never mentioned to any police officers that you had been racially abused because it didn't happen did it?"

Mr Anwar said: "That's wrong."

Mr Taaffe went on: "By the time you went to the police the next day and you knew this man was a senior officer, you thought at that stage you better make your case a little more serious, a little more stronger."

Mr Anwar replied that he feared the officer could have his taxi licence revoked, saying: "I wanted to defend myself to the city council that I did nothing wrong."

During police interviews, Mr Anwar claimed that Tomlinson urinated against a pub wall after getting out of his taxi.

After Mr Anwar reported the incident on August 1 he was interviewed on suspicion of theft and falsely imprisoning Tomlinson, but no action was taken against him, the court was told.