Taxi driver subjected to racist attack by Gateshead passenger turned amateur detective to trace culprit on Facebook

Carl Turnbull, who admitted a racially aggravated assault on a taxi driver
Carl Turnbull, who admitted a racially aggravated assault on a taxi driver -Credit:Northumbria Police

A taxi driver subjected to a racist attack by a passenger turned amateur detective to track him down on Facebook.

The victim was working for Blue Line Taxis when he was called to pick up Carl Turnbull and a woman on Raby Way, Byker, Newcastle, around 1am on September 26 2021. Turnbull said he would direct the cabbie to Forest Hall, North Tyneside, rather than giving a destination, and paid a £10 deposit.

The victim said during the journey the defendant made disapproving comments about the number of or proportion of black people or immigrants in the area. In his basis of plea, Turnbull said he "remarked about the West End being multicultural and he says he didn't mean discourtesy but accepts he might have felt some disrespect", the court heard.

Turnbull told him to stop in Forest Hall and was told the bill was £14. The woman with him went to pay with her card but Turnbull stopped her. There was then a dispute about what the fare should be.

Turnbull then got out of the car and called the driver a "black *******" and repeatedly kicked the taxi. He said he was trying to retrieve his phone, which was still inside the vehicle.

Deborah Smithies, prosecuting, said: "The victim got out to look for damage and there was a physical confrontation. The defendant confronted him, tried to goad him, pushed him and punched him once in the face."

The victim shouted for some bystanders to call the police and someone did so and as the sirens approached, Turnbull ran off. The taxi driver suffered a broken little finger and pain to his face and there were dents and scratches to his car.

He found his attacker by searching Facebook for people called Carl in Newcastle, flicking through profiles until he found the face he recognised about a month after the attack.

He said in a victim impact statement: "The entire incident has left me feeling very distressed. I feel the language used towards me was specifically targting my ethnicity and if I was white this would not have happened.

"It's affected me at work because I'm anxious when I'm collecting customers that this will happen again and I might end up hurt or someone might try to take my money. However I need to work to provide for my family."

Turnbull, 32, of Chevington, Leam Lane, Gateshead, who has 36 previous convictions, claimed he couldn't remember using the racial slur but said he must have done so in the heat of the moment as he was angry that his phone was still in the taxi. He pleaded guilty to racially aggravated assault occasioning actual bodily harm and criminal damage and was sentenced to 12 weeks suspended for two years and must do a "thinking skills programme".

Katie Spencer, defending, said: "He has had a degree of difficulties in his 32 years. He suffered substance abuse. He served in the army and it had a considerable impact on him."