Serious Injury Experts At Irwin Mitchell Now Assisting With Battle For Care Costs To Help Victim’s Recovery
A Maltby man says he is “lucky to be alive” after he was left unconscious in the middle of the road with a brain injury, broken ankle and punctured lung, when a taxi driver locked his girlfriend in the vehicle and ran him over.
Speaking out for the first time since the couple’s ordeal, and on the day that Mohammed Sarfraz was found guilty and jailed for 14 months, 19-year-old Martin Malia says he and his girlfriend Kirsty Lockwood, 20, have been physically and emotionally scarred by the incident.
Head injury specialists at law firm Irwin Mitchell are now looking to secure a care and rehabilitation package to help the 19-year-old recover from his injuries.
The couple had already paid the originally quoted fare for the journey from Rotherham town centre to Mr Malia’s home in Maltby, when Sarfraz demanded they pay an additional fare on arrival at the destination. He then locked Miss Lockwood in the taxi and started to drive off, turning the vehicle around in the cul-de-sac and knocking down Mr Malia.
Mr Malia suffered a brain injury, broken ankle, internal injuries, and a punctured lung as a result of the incident, which occurred on 15 August 2010. He has had to undergo surgery to fit plates and pins to his ankle, continues to suffer from memory problems as a result of this brain injury, and still has scars showing the taxi’s tyre marks across his chest.
He is now undergoing occupational therapy and physiotherapy at the Sheffield Community Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust to aid his recovery.
Kate Petchey, a solicitor in Irwin Mitchell’s serious injury team, which recently won a national award for rehabilitation, said: “Martin has suffered very serious injuries as a result of this incident and now has a long process of rehabilitation ahead of him.
“These are injuries he suffered through no fault of his own and it is essential that he is able to access the highest level of care and rehabilitation available. Irwin Mitchell is committed to helping Martin to make the best recovery possible and we are working to secure a care and rehabilitation package for him.”
Taxi driver Mohammed Sarfraz was found guilty of dangerous driving, leaving the scene and failing to report an accident. He was sentenced to 14 months in prison at Sheffield Crown Court (October 19). He was also disqualified from driving for three years and was warned the UK Border Agency may consider deportation due to his prison sentence being greater than 12 months.
As a result of his brain injury, Mr Malia himself has no recollection of the incident.
Miss Lockwood said: “We had taken the taxi home with friends and had just dropped them off, but when we arrived at Martin’s house the driver demanded we pay over the original fare, which we had already paid.
“Having done the journey in a taxi before, I knew how much we should be paying so I asked him to show me the meter, but he just plain refused. As I was arguing with the driver, Martin got out of the car to go into the house. The driver started to get angry, and then locked me in the car and drove off down the road.”
Mr Malia realised what was happening and approached the vehicle to try and get Miss Lockwood released. As Mr Malia was standing near the vehicle pleading with the driver to let Miss Lockwood out, Sarfraz set off, knocking Mr Malia to the ground before running him over. Sarfraz then sped off, before briefly stopping to let Miss Lockwood out of the car.
Miss Lockwood said: “It was absolutely terrifying when the driver locked me in the car. I didn’t know what he was going to do.
“I then had to sit there while he ran Martin down and I could feel the bump as he drove over the top of him. I just remember thinking he’d killed my boyfriend.”
Mr Malia added: “I feel lucky to still be alive after what happened. The whole experience was terrifying and Kirsty and I have both been scarred for life – physically and emotionally.”
Kate Petchey said: “Over the last 12 months we have been approached to act in other cases where clients have been injured after disputes with taxi drivers, and this is extremely concerning.
“I urge everybody to be vigilant, and to look out for any unusual signs. In this case Sarfraz was fully licensed and driving for a reputable company, but incidents like these are more common with unlicensed drivers. This is not to say that taxis are an unsafe method of transport, but I would caution people to ensure they take extra care.”