A CABBIE who admitted holding two passengers against their will in an argument over £1.40 says the police don’t do enough to protect taxi drivers.

Moskiqur Rahman was given a conditional discharge for driving a couple back to where he picked them up after they quibbled over the fare.

The 48-year-old had been due to stand trial but pleaded guilty to false imprisonment after being told the order was the worst sentence he would get.

The court heard that Rahman was at Swindon's Wood Street rank when he picked up Grace Moore and Robert Theakston, who said they weren’t drunk, at 1am on September 11 last year.

As he took them to Shelley Street the male passenger complained about the state of the back of the black cab, saying there was fast food left behind on the seat.

Michael Butt, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how on arrival Mr Theakston handed over £5 for the £6.40 fare, saying he had deducted 20 per cent for the mess.

The driver repeatedly said ‘pay up, pay up’ and pointed at the meter before locking the doors and driving off, he said.

“The female complainant said ‘can I get out please?’. The defendant’s response was ‘you pay’,” Mr Butt said.

As he set off from Shelley Street, Mr Butt said Miss Moore took her partner’s phone and dialled 999 to say they were being held.

“It is quite plain that the female complainant is in a state of considerable distress during the course of this journey,” he said.

“One hears repeated, possibly 12 times, requests to get out of the taxi. The defendant is heard laughing, or cackling, during the course of this.”

The taxi was met by a police car in Devizes Road. When questioned, the cabbie said the passengers had been abusive, that he had not locked them in and that he believed he could keep people in if they behaved badly.

Rahman, of Broad Street, pleaded guilty to two counts of false imprisonment.

Mike Pulsford, defending, said his client had driven a taxi in Swindon for more than 15 years and was taking them back to Old Town knowing the police would be there.

The sound of him laughing on the 999 call, he said, was in reaction to Mr Theakston saying he would lose his licence and his client replying he would not.

He said that the police and council had produced posters about making off from taxis without paying and his client thought he was doing the right thing.

Earlier the court heard the cabbie thought the couple had brought the fast food into the cab and there had also been mention of fines for passengers who make a mess.

Judge Robert Pawson told Rahman: “If there is a problem between you and the police and you think they are not taking your case seriously it is not something you take out on your fares: it is something you take out with the Independent Police Complaints Commission.”

He imposed a three-year conditional discharge and told him to pay £800 costs.

Speaking afterwards, Rahman said: “The police don’t work with us, they are just in favour of the person if they don’t pay. If you call the police they say ‘call 101, we are busy’. If the passenger calls they come straight away, so we are not getting help from them.

“When you hand to them the criminal, they favour them. If someone breaks your screen, they say call 101.

“In this case I said ‘if I am guilty why don’t you arrest me now?’ He said ‘I am too busy’, so there you are.”