Cabbie has teeth knocked out after refusing to sing along with a drunk passenger — (Manchester Evening News)

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Manchester Evening News

By Pete Bainbridge


Veteran cabbie Ken Collins was attacked by Matthew Rothwell who was boozed up after a night out in Manchester city centre.

A 77-year-old taxi driver had his teeth knocked out after refusing to take part in a sing-song with a drunken passenger.

Veteran cabbie Ken Collins was attacked by Matthew Rothwell who was boozed up after a night out in Manchester city centre.

Rothwell, 52, a former glazing businessman, grew angry in the cab when Ken refused to sing along with him, calling him ‘a miserable b******’.

When Ken pulled up outside the Rothwell’s home in Failsworth, Oldham, he punched him in the face through the driver’s window.

Ken, a great-grandfather, lost two teeth and some dentures which he says left him ‘looking like the Phantom of the Opera’.

He went on holiday to Thailand the next day but his injury forced him to come home early. After the attack in February, Rothwell was hauled into court.

He admitted assault causing actual bodily harm – an offence which carries a potential jail sentence – but walked free with a community penalty.

Ken, who drives for Radio Cars in Manchester, said: “It’s disgusting that he only got a community sentence. It’s sending completely the wrong message out. What does it say? It says you can hit a taxi driver and knock his teeth out and not go down.”

He added: “I was going to reverse and he came up to the driver’s side and punched me through the window. I was laid over the seat, in shock, and felt my teeth out. There was blood everywhere.”

Rothwell was also ordered to pay Ken £500 compensation.

He added: “It’s disgraceful. He has to pay me £500? It cost me £683 for the flight back from holiday, £125 for new dentures and then there’s loss of earnings because I couldn’t go back to work that night. Who’s going to pay for that?”

Ken, who grew up in Kersal, Salford, but has since moved to Bolton, said he still drives in his late 70s because he loves the job.

Over the decades, he’s had several famous passengers, including the legendary actor Richard Harris and Cold Feet star John Thomson. Since being attacked, Ken said he felt ‘very apprehensive’ about his job.

Rothwell, of Langton Close, Failsworth, was handed a 12-month community order with supervision and 200 hours of  unpaid work at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court.

The attack came after Ken picked up Rothwell from the Mitre Pub in the early hours of Sunday, February 24.

Having become angry during the journey over the route the cabbie took, Rothwell stuck two fingers up at Ken after paying his fare. “And you,” the cabbie replied.  Rothwell then walked back to the car and hit him with a single punch in the face.

The court was told that Rothwell had lost his glass-cutting business and become a delivery driver, but later lost that job.

He had suffered bouts of depression, and was prescribed anti-depressants by his GP, it was said.

Mark Fireman, defending,  told the judge: “It was a relatively brief moment of madness, influenced by alcohol and no doubt anti-depressants at a time of particular personal stress for him and his family. He deeply regrets what took place that day.”

Recorder Judge Eric Lamb told Rothwell he would impose a community sentence, but added: “You’re 52 years old and by now you should know much better that the way you behaved on February 24 this year.

“You got drunk, you couldn’t hold the drink and while you thought your conduct was funny, the result of what you did led to a dispute of your making with a taxi driver who was doing nothing more than carrying out his job to earn a living. For his troubles the result was that you left him with an injury to his mouth, losing his teeth.”