A violent drunken assault by a Royal Marine on a taxi driver left him facing little more than a slapped wrist.
Corporal Darren Lewis pleaded guilty to assaulting taxi driver Habibi Babak by beating him in an incident in the early hours of Friday, October 26. He also admitted damaging a £100 perspex screen in Mr Babak's taxi. The court was told that Lewis carried out the assault at about 3am in Exeter city centre after Mr Babak had picked him up from outside a nightclub. The driver told Lewis he needed the fare of £20 to Exmouth upfront. But Lewis said he did not have enough money and would get the rest in Exmouth when he got to his girlfriend's home. Mr Babak asked him to get out of the vehicle or he would call the police. Father-of-one Lewis refused and when Mr Babak said he would drive to the police station he still would not get out. While Mr Babak was driving to the police station, Lewis broke the perspex divide in the cab and grabbed Mr Babak and pulled the back of his jumper tight around his neck, causing abrasions to his skin. Lewis told police he was drunk but that Mr Babak drove erratically and he did not know where he was being taken. He said he grabbed him because he wanted to get out. Now I have the greatest respect for our forces and we all know that aggression and violence are actively encouraged in some parts of our forces, and can be a good thing on the battle ground. But don't they teach them that they should be a little more restrained in normal everyday life? Well it seems not, and it also seems that Exeter Magistrates have no idea about the punishment fitting the crime, and that every case, civilian or military should be treated equally. After the following mitigation, (which I would say is totally irrelevant unless the Marine is suffering and being treated for PTSD in which case I would have hardly thought that promotion was appropriate.) The marine was ordered to pay £50 in compensation to Mr Babak and £60 court costs, which is on par with a minor parking offence. But that's OK folks because he has to go in front of a colonel for a dressing down-wow, how harsh! "Mitigating, Peter Seigne told Exeter magistrates Lewis had just returned from high-altitude training, a stressful exercise where he was in a position of high responsibility. He said Lewis had spent a number of months on active service in an extremely hostile war zone. Warrant Officer Miles Hall said that Lewis, based at 42 Commando in Plymouth, was being considered for promotion and had no disciplinary record in the marines, but would face a colonel over the assault."