DUBAI // A drunk man stole a Dubai taxi after refusing to pay a fare and punching the driver, a court heard this morning.
The defendant, 30-year-old Nigerian visitor SL, was charged today in the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance with attempted auto theft and assault.
Records show that on September 21, 2011, SL hailed a taxi at 3.15am to be taken from Khalid Ibn Al Waleed road in Bur Dubai to Friej Murar in Deira.
The taxi driver, the 28-year-old Ethiopian HH, told prosecutors that during the trip SL asked him to turn back and head to the Palm Beach hotel in Bur Dubai.
"I turned back and drove him to the hotel entrance. He got out of the taxi without paying, so I followed him, thinking he forgot because he looked too drunk," HH told prosecutors.
At the entrance of the hotel, HH tapped SL on the shoulder, asking for his Dh19 fare.
"He turned around and put his left hand in his pocket. I thought he was pulling out cash, but he took his hand out and punched me in the eye," HH said.
The driver was knocked down off his feet and momentarily lost consciousness, records show.
SL then fled to the running cab and drove away towards Port Rashid.
"The command centre directed us to respond to a car theft near the Royal Ascot hotel. We arrived with an ambulance and were told that the suspect escaped towards the port," a police corporal testified.
A second patrol car found the stolen taxi and stopped the vehicle at the port, records show.
"I leaned in to switch off the car engine and saw the drunken state and size of the man behind the wheel, so I called for backup," the patrol officer told prosecutors.
After SL was taken to Al Refaa police station, prosecutors told the court, he broke two chairs in the holding cell while he was being booked.
Records also show SL is being prosecuted on alcohol and destruction of public property charges, to which he confessed at the Dubai Court of Misdemeanors.
The criminal court will issue its verdict on January 30.