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4 October 2012, 12:45
A 27 year old man's been jailed for 25 years for murdering a taxi driver he racially abused, punched and kicked in a taxi office in Bedford.
Daniel Rogers attacked Mehar Dhariwal (right) and threw a chair at him after objecting to being asked for payment up front.
The 61 year old Indian-born former bus driver went to hospital and was discharged. He did not tell his family of the attack, saying he had been involved in an accident.
Five days later he collapsed at his home in Kempston, Bedfordshire and was rushed to hospital by one of the paramedics who had treated him at the time of the attack. He never regained consciousness.
Prosecutor Sarah Gaunt told the jury of 7 women and 5 men at Luton crown court the attack happened at 5am on the morning of 22 January 2012 at the offices of AGS taxis in St Peter's Street, Bedford.
Rogers, then 26, has Tourettes Syndrome and had gone out drinking in Bedford on 21 January after a row with his girlfriend, Alex Coles.
She said: "Alex Coles said he was the gentlest person when sober but was aggressive when drunk. That night the defendant went out and drank alcohol and was in an intoxicated state when he arrived at AGS taxis at 5 am. "
The taxi controller Christine Clegg booked the job and Mr Dhariwal, who had started work at 4am, opened the door to his taxi. It was alleged that when he asked for payment up front, which was the company policy, Rogers became racially abusive and aggressive.
The prosecutor said Mr Dhariwal got out of the cab and discussed whether to call the police with another driver, who left the scene. Rogers got out of the taxi and continued the racial abuse.
An early morning street cleaner John McAdam saw Rogers kicking the taxi as Mr Dhariwal went back into the office.
Miss Gaunt said: "The defendant could have just left, but chose to follow. After following him into the office the defendant attacked Mr Dhariwal before he could close the internal office door.
"The attack was witnessed by Christine Clegg and John McAdam. It involved several punches and kicks to the victim with such ferocity he went to the floor. The defendant was very angry. Mr Dhariwal was not aggressive.
"Both Christine Clegg and John McAdam telephoned the police. During the conversation with the police they described the defendant as "kicking the s... out of Mr Dhariwal and "kicking the crap out of him," said the prosecutor.
When Rogers jogged away from the office he was tracked by Mr McAdam. He was found by the police hiding nearby in a mews area near Mickey Dee's in Bedford. He was wearing heavy working boots.
The taxi driver was covered in blood and had a lump on his head the size of an egg. He also suffered an injury to his chest. "He was taken to hospital but no CT scan was carried out and an X-ray did not pick up the fact that he had suffered a broken rib, " said Miss Gaunt.
He was discharged and told his family he had been involved in a car accident , but on the following Friday Mr Dhaliwal was at home in Hillgrounds, Kempston with his daughters-in-law when he became ill.
Miss Gaunt said: "He was gripping the door frame to support himself. He held his head to one side. An ambulance was called and by chance one of the paramedics who treated him on 22 January was there. He was slipping into a state of unconsciousness. He was taken to hospital and did not regain consciousness and was pronounced dead on 29 January at 4.45 in the morning."
She told the court Mr Dhaliwal was of Indian descent, coming to live in England in 1966. He had worked on the buses for 35 years, before retiring and working as a taxi driver.
The jury was told Rogers of The Cloisters, Bedford was arrested and pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm when he appeared before magistrates in the town on 23 Janaury. He then pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but denied a charge of murder. He was convicted by the jury.
Judge Richard Foster sentenced Rogers to life with a minimum of 25 years.
After the sentencing Detective Chief Inspector Sean O'Neil from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit (BCHMCU) said:
"Mehar Dhariwal was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle who was cruelly taken from his family by the violent behaviour of Daniel Rogers who will spend the 25 years in prison for his actions.
"This was a tragic death of a taxi driver working hard and offering a service to the public. The attack on him was unprovoked and considerable. Mr Dhariwal had merely asked for a taxi fare to be paid in advance. Before he died of his serious injuries Mr Dhariwal still had sympathy for Rogers and did not want his own family to know that he had been attacked while doing the job he loved.
"Rogers may not have meant to kill but he did, and now Mr Dhariwal's family have to live every day without him. I hope that the knowledge that the person responsible has been brought to justice will go some way in helping them begin to rebuild their lives."
The family Mehar Dhariwal also issued a statement following the result of the court case which reads:
"While this sentence will never bring dad back, we are happy that justice has been done. We want him to be remembered as the people person that he was. He loved being out and about in the community meeting people every day - firstly as a bus driver for 35 years and then as a taxi driver.
"Our dad loved his family more than anything in the world. He leaves behind a loving wife, three sons, three daughter-in-laws and four grandchildren who have found it difficult to cope without him and who miss him very much.
"We would like to thank everyone - family, friends and those who have fond memories of our dad, for all the support and help that has been offered since his death. All that we ask is that our dad is remembered for the man that he was."