Portsmouth taxi driver avoids jail for blasting fare-dodging women in the face with pepper spray
AN ENRAGED taxi driver who launched a pepper spray attack on a group of fare-dodging women left one of his victims fearing she was ‘going blind’.
Narcisse Assicome narrowly avoided jail after blasting two women in the face with the canister of illegally-owned liquid.
The 47-year-old father-of-four had been on duty in the early hours of November 4, 2018, when he received a call to pick up three women in Southsea.
However, unbeknown to cabbie Assicome, the trio of women had ‘no intention’ of paying the full £7 fare to the Milton Arms pub, instead offering £1 before fleeing, Portsmouth Crown Court heard.
Furious, the Republic of Congo national armed himself with one of two cans of pepper spray he kept in his taxi for ‘self-defence’ and gave chase.
Assicome, of Old Wymering Lane, Wymering, managed to assault two of the three, first dousing Tia Simmons in the face once, then Jessica Kubiak, before coming back to Ms Simmons and spraying her a further two times in the face and mouth.
Prosecutor Jeffrey Lamb told the court Ms Simmons was left terrified and said: ‘She had a hand over her face and was screaming. She thought she was going blind. She could not open her eyes to see. Her face and her eyes were burning.
‘Struggling and with the aid of Siri on her mobile phone she managed to telephone her mother and her father arrived to collect her and took her to Queen Alexandra Hospital.’
The effects of the spray lasted for about a day, leaving no lasting physical damage, Mr Lamb said.
He added Ms Kubiak had admitted not having the money for the fare and said: ‘She planned on paying the £1 and running off.’
When questioned by police about the attack, Assicome admitted he lost his temper with the dishonest trio when they refused to pay.
‘This, he said, annoyed him and said he didn’t have time for this nonsense and the thought came to “spray, spray spray”,’ Mr Lamb told the court.
Assicome admitted both assaults and a further charge of possessing two cans of pepper spray.
Defending, Daniel Reilly said the incident came at the end of a ‘particularly difficult week’ where Assicome had been threatened by another customer with a knife.
Mr Reilly told the court the pepper spray attack would never have happened had the victims not taken the ‘deliberate decision’ to ‘make off without payment’.
‘While his intention was not to cause any harm he wanted to make a point that they shouldn’t be able to behave in that way.
‘He accepts that it was not an acceptable way of dealing with it and he is sorry for his actions.’
Judge William Ashworth sentenced Assicome to six months in jail, suspended for a year, and ordered him to complete 150 hours unpaid work and pay £50 compensation to each victim.
Assicome has since had his taxi licence revoked by Portsmouth City Council.
Speaking after the sentencing Nickii Humphreys, the council’s licensing manager, said: ‘As soon as we were alerted to the incident with Mr Assicome, we revoked his private hire driver's licence as the safety of passengers travelling in vehicles licensed by Portsmouth City Council is of paramount importance.
‘We hope that the sentence imposed by the court demonstrates to licensed drivers that such actions will not be tolerated and that the licensing authority will not hesitate to revoke licences.’