A TAXI driver who used his belt in a drive-through take-away fracas has been let off with £300 worth of fines.
Security cameras at McDonalds in Uttoxeter filmed Raheem Hussain pushing a man over, hitting him with the belt and also injuring the victim's girlfriend.
The couple were in a group complaining that Hussain's cab was blocking the food ordering counter, Stafford crown court heard.
Miss Liz de Oliveira, prosecuting, said the victim, Mr Matthew Shaw suffered a graze to his elbow and a bruised bicep, while his girlfriend Miss Eleanor Chatfield had a cut on her neck.
Hussain, aged 24, of Burton Road, Branston, was fined £200 after admitting assaulting Mr Shaw causing actual bodily harm, fined £100 for common assault on Miss Chatfield and also ordered to pay £200 towards costs. He was formally cleared of a charge of affray when the prosecution offered no evidence.
The judge, Recorder Mr David Bright, told him: "This is a case where the court has been assisted by the film and it is obvious that you were, to a large extent, acting in a defensive mode and some of the people gave the appearance they were looking for trouble.
"I don't think you were the only one misbehaving - I am not making any compensation orders."
Miss de Oliveira said the trouble started with Hussain's passengers having a dispute with the cabbie over fares.
The taxi was stationery and the complainants were in a car behind. One of the group, James Chatfield, got out to see what was happening and his sister, Elaine asked her boyfriend to go with him.
Mr Shaw asked Hussain to move his taxi and asked for the name of his cab company. The defendant responded by pushing him over. When he tried to get up, Hussain hit him with a belt. Miss Chatfield then tried to extricate her boyfriend and the belt cut her.
Mr Tim Achurch (corr), defending, said Hussain had quite properly called the police when his passengers were refusing to pay the fare and also informed his company.
"It was the group who approached this defendant, who felt threatened, which was why he took up the belt he had in his car. The male complainant came towards him with his hands raised.
"They remained a hostile group... in the course of that confrontation he recklessly swung out with his belt. There was no intention to cause harm, he didn't want to be involved in a violent situation, otherwise he would not have called the police.
"One of the effects of this prosecution is that he has lost his taxi licence."
Mr Achurch said Hussain, who has a wife and child with another on the way, now works as a controller for the cab company.