Pleasley woman assaulted taxi driver over £20 fare

Mansfield Magistrates Court.
Mansfield Magistrates Court.

A Pleasley woman punched a taxi driver in the face and crushed his glasses when he asked her to pay a £20 return fare to Sutton, a court has heard.

Dawn Louise Cojocariu, 42, of Chesterfield Road North, denied common assault and criminal damage on January 4.

Peter Quinn, prosecuting, said Cojocariu and a friend hailed William Nicolson’s taxi at about 12.30am on December 6, last year, and went to an address in Sutton.

Mr Nicolson also drove them home and waited outside to be paid until he knocked on her door.

He told the court: “She said ‘Come in.’ I said no. I just want you to pay me for the work I have done.

“She grabbed me by both lapels and tried to drag me into the house. I braced myself on the door.

“She grabbed me around the eyes and grabbed my glasses. She scrunched them up. I heard them shatter.

“Then she threw a right punch and got me on the left cheek.

“I was shocked and it was painful for a few hours. I gave her no reason to hit me like that.

“She came back out with a pound coin and said ‘Here you are. I want 50p change.’”

Mr Nicolson told the court that on the return journey Cojocariu had made crude sexual comments, which she said was merely ‘girl talk’.

Giving evidence, Cojocariu said she had gone to Sutton with her friend to recover a debt but the house was empty. Her friend gashed her hand while damaging a window and they returned to Pleasley.

She said: “I couldn’t stop the bleeding. There was blood everywhere. I went back out and asked if the driver would take us to the King’s Mill Hospital.”

She claimed the driver followed her and grabbed her arm, but that she shook him off with her elbow.

Mr Nicolson denied this and told the court ‘she is lying through her teeth.’

Cojocariu told police she had drunk five cans of Fosters lager but denied being drunk.

PC Jeremy Gascoigne arrested Cojocariu. In a statement he said: “She appeared to be in drink or under the influence of some kind of substance.

“She appeared to be very irate and unpredictable. She didn’t seem to be able to understand why we were there.”

Mr Quinn said: “She said she didn’t punch the driver and stated how he would know about it if she did.”

He said the driver had behaved thoughtfully and even provided a napkin for her friend’s cut hand, adding: “And yet you would have us believe that he started manhandling you at your property.”

Mary Dixon, defending, told magistrates: “It boils down to two diametrically opposed accounts of what happened that evening.

“If there are any doubts in your mind about what happened you must acquit the defendant. Only if you believe the account of Mr Nicolson can you find Mrs Cojocariu guilty.”

Magistrates found Cojocariu guilty of both charges. Sentencing was adjourned for reports.

The court heard Cojocariu had an ‘extensive record’, with her last conviction for a similar offence in November 2010 resulting in a 90 day sentence, suspended for 12 months.

The court heard Cojocariu’s friend arranged for the fare to be paid through police two days after the incident.