Cab driver fights for life as hunt for vicious attacker stepped up

POLICE have stepped up their hunt for a vicious man who stabbed a cab driver in the neck, causing him life-threatening injuries.

The 22-year-old private hire driver suffered a severed trachea and punctured lung in the stabbing in Leeds but managed to drive away before collapsing a few minutes later. The victim, who only recently got married, managed to talk briefly about his ordeal but then his condition deteriorated and he is now in a critical condition and fighting for his life in Leeds General Infimrary.

Last night police appealed for witnesses to the attack, which happened in the Belle Isle area.

The victim was in the driver's seat of his private hire black Skoda when he was stabbed by a customer he had taken to an address in Belle Isle shortly before 8pm on Wednesday, January 5.

It is believed that robbery may have been the motive.

The driver had picked up a fare, possibly on Belle Isle Road, at about 7.30pm and drove into a cul-de-sac on the Brooms estate shortly before 8pm, when the man produced a knife and stabbed him in the neck before running away.

The taxi driver drove a short distance while making a call on his mobile telephone for help, before being overcome by his injuries.

A taxi driver from another firm spotted him in distress and came to his assistance until paramedics arrived.

West Yorkshire Police's Homicide and Major Enquiry Team is appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident or has any information which can help to trace those responsible.

Officers are particularly keen to speak to a man who rang the driver's employers, Speedline, on Sunday evening, and claimed to have vital information about the incident.

Detective Superintendent Paul Taylor said: "This is an extremely serious incident where a young man has been left fighting for his life, and we are keen to speak to anyone who can help trace those responsible.

"On Sunday evening his employers received a phone call from a member of the public who claimed to have information about the stabbing. This information was passed to us but the caller did not leave a name or number, and we are keen to speak to him directly.

"This man may have further information which could be of vital assistance to our enquiries, and I would urge him to contact officers as soon as possible."

Det Supt Taylor described the attack as vicious and said someone in Belle Isle or Middleton would know who was involved.

Despite the seriousness of the driver's injuries, he was able to describe his attacker as a white man, aged 25 to 35, slim, taller than 5ft 6, with brushed forward brown hair. He wore a white outdoor-type jacket which was possibly hooded, and black jeans.

Det Supt Taylor said: "Although the information we have from the taxi driver is limited, we do believe he has spent the hour prior to the incident in the Middleton and Belle Isle areas.

"It's quite likely that members of the public may have seen his car in those areas, and may have seen him carrying a passenger. It's also possible that members of the public may have seen the man running from the car after the incident.

"Your information could be crucial to our enquiries and I would encourage members of the public who think they may have seen either the car in the area or the man running away from the car to come forward."

Anyone with information is asked to contact 0845 6060606 or Crimestoppers anonymously and in confidence on 0800 555 111.