Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Carjack bid victim fined for answering mobile... to talk to the police

Taxi driver Thomas Brownlee was attacked by a gang of men during an attempted hijacking - and then ended up with penalty points for giving a statement to police on the phone while driving.

The 48-year-old Co Armagh man fought off his three attackers who had threatened him with a screwdriver and tried to steal his taxi.

After reporting the attack to police he was contacted a few hours later by detectives seeking further information.

But because he was driving while he briefed detectives on the phone, a passing police patrol car hauled him over and issued him with a £60 fine and three penalty points.

"The chance of them catching those boys who attacked me are very slim, but it was easy for them to take £60 off me. I thought it was pretty unfair, to be honest. But if you're caught, you're caught," said Mr Brownlee.

The Craigavon taxi-firm owner was attacked on Thursday morning by three passengers at Hopewell Place in north Belfast after picking them up in Dollingstown, outside Lurgan.

A screwdriver was held to his neck and he was ordered out of his car, but he fought back and his attackers fled empty-handed. Detectives investigating the attempted hijacking contacted Mr Brownlee for further information on Thursday afternoon as he was driving along the Armagh Road in Portadown.

"I usually use my bluetooth but I was in my wife's car as the police had taken mine for forensics. I didn't want to miss the call and there was nowhere for me to pull over immediately, so I spoke to them while I looked for a spot to park. That's when the police came over to the car and gave me three penalty points. CID was still on the phone to me," said Mr Brownlee.

He added: "It's one of those things, isn't it? I think it was pretty unfair. But what can I do about it? I had to go back to Belfast to make a statement on Thursday night and I asked them if there was anything they could do about the fine and points, but they said they couldn't."

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