Three taxi drivers were charged with assault after 10-minutes of mayhem left a 41-year-old Buckfast drinking customer lying in the street unconscious.
Six police officers rushed to the disturbance, which began when the customer – who cannot be identified because he himself may be facing charges – apparently tried to get a ride without sufficient money.
CCTV footage shows the man, who appears to be under the influence of alcohol – with a bottle of Buckfast in his pocket – get into the front passenger seat of the taxi at the head of the rank in Murray Place, Stirling.
About a minute later he gets out again, after his attempt to hire the cab, which never left the rank, was rebuffed.
However, the driver of the taxi, James Stewart (50), then gets out himself, and is seen to push the man violently to the head or face, causing him to fall backwards onto tarmac between the cab rank and the road.
The CCTV footage, played at Stirling Sheriff Court today, shows the man pick himself up and stagger to the pavement. Two or three minutes later, two women customers arrive at the lead taxi and negotiate a hire.
But before it leaves, Stewart gets out again and is seen on the footage to assault the man for a second time, punching him, and kicking him or attempting to kick him, causing him to fall to the ground.
Stewart drives off leaving his victim lying motionless and apparently unconscious on the pavement while pedestrians step around him.
Another taxi, driven by Brian Davidson (40), then moves up to the head of the rank.
After another two or three minutes, Stewart’s victim appears to regain consciousness and get up.
He is then seen to approach Brian Davidson’s cab, apparently unaware that while he was out cold, Stewart and gone and Davidson had taken his position at the head of the rank.
With the bottle of Buckfast now in his hand, he begins kicking and badly denting the driver’s door, and repeatedly kicking and punching Davidson, through the open driver’s window, leaving him with a bleeding lip.
A man living near the taxi rank, William Neilson (31) intervenes, pushing Davidson’s attacker away from the cab door and onto the ground.
Davidson, whom the prosecution accepted had been “provoked”, is then seen to kick out at the man once.
Depute fiscal Laura Knox said the man was by now “cowering on the ground in a foetal position”, with Mr Neilson standing over him trying to keep people away.
Mr Davidson’s brother Edward Davidson (37), also a cabbie, parked third from the head of the rank, then gets out, side-steps Mr Neilson, and kicks the man on the ground hard, twice, to the head, in retaliation for what has been done to his brother.
Three police cars with a total of six officers then arrive at the scene and the man is led away, bleeding from the nose.
Stewart, of St Ninians, Stirling, pled guilty to assault causing injury. Brian Davidson, of Deanston, Perthshire, admitted assault under provocation and Edward Davidson, of Bo’ness, initially denied assault causing injury – claiming he had merely been trying to kick the Buckfast bottle out of the man’s hand – but was found guilty after a summary trial.
The incidents, which happened on July 5 last year, started to kick off at around 9.40pm.
The victim, a carer, did not make a statement to police and did not give evidence.
Lawyers for the three cabbies said all feared that Stirling Council’s regulatory functions panel would now cancel their licences, resulting in the loss of their livelihoods.
Frazer McCready, for Stewart, said: “It seems to be an incident where the red mist came down. There is no suggestion that any long-term or residual injury was caused.”
Sheriff Simon Collins QC fined Stewart £450, Edward Davidson £500 and Brian Davidson £180.
Sheriff Collins told Stewart: “I don’t know what this man did to provoke you, but nothing he did could justify your actions. You could have just driven away – you chose instead to get out of your car and assault him, causing him to fall to the ground, apparently rendering him unconscious for a couple of minutes.”
He told Edward Davidson: “Contrary to the position which you adopted at trial, it was abundantly clear you chose to get involved in this matter by kicking the complainer twice to the head as he lay defenceless on the ground.
“There was no threat to you or anyone else. The motivation in my view was anger at what he had done to your brother and his vehicle.
“It was entirely understandable on one level, but both Mr Neilson and your brother had already put him to the ground and you were not entitled to hand out retribution of your own.”
He told Brian Davidson: “I think it most probable, as the procurator fiscal suggested, the complainer sought to take out his anger at Mr Stewart on you and your vehicle.
“Clearly you were assaulted by him and injured yourself. You could of course have simply driven away but you chose to get out and kick him on the head on the ground.
“You accepted he had been assaulted by you, and the Crown rightly accepted that it was carried out under provocation.”