TWO “road rage” charges have been dropped against a cabbie who is accused of murdering a private hire driver, after a prosecution witness was given repeated warnings about perjury.
Joseph O’Connor, 47, alleged that he had been verbally abused and threatened by Stephen Nolan, 48, in incidents 17 months apart.
He denied, however, that he had asked a woman to be a “witness” to the second confrontation, even though she had not been present.
Mr O’Connor was told several times by the advocate-depute, Douglas Fairley, QC, that he could be prosecuted for perjury if he did not tell the truth. He insisted he could not remember asking the woman.
After an adjournment, Mr Fairley withdrew charges against Nolan of threatening Mr O’Connor and putting him in a state of fear and alarm for his safety, and the judge, Lady Wise, discharged Mr O’Connor from the witness box.
Nolan, 48, of Redhall Place, Edinburgh, denies murdering Ebrahim Aryaei Nekoo, 41, of Carrick Knowe Hill, Edinburgh, on 24 March last year in a car parking area near the Fords Road entrance of the city’s Saughton Park. It is alleged he repeatedly drove his black cab at him, struck him on the body, and drove over him.
Earlier that day, it is claimed, Nolan shouted at Mr Aryaei Nekoo and adopted an aggressive and intimidating manner towards him at a petrol station near the park.
In his evidence to the High Court in Edinburgh, Mr O’Connor, a taxi driver, said that, under a cabbies’ etiquette, one driver did not overtake another if they were displaying their “For Hire” lights.
“Basically, you are stealing someone’s fare,” he added.
Early one morning, at the end of his shift, he stated, he had been driving towards the Gogar roundabout from Edinburgh Airport and forgot his light was on. He tried to overtake another cab, but it moved into the outside lane and braked suddenly.
“I almost slammed into the back of him. He hurled abuse that I was trying to steal a fare from him,” said Mr O’Connor.
They stopped at lights and Nolan got out and punched the window of Mr O’Connor’s vehicle.
“He threatened he was going to punch my f****** head in...stab me in the eye and rip my f****** head off,” stated Mr O’Connor.
He reported Nolan as an “aggressive and violent taxi driver”. He next saw him about 17 months later, after picking up a fare in the city centre.
“He came through lights and almost ran into the back of me. He pulled alongside and started cursing and swearing again. I had a passenger. She was really, really upset,” Mr O’Connor told the jury.
Again, he lodged a complaint about Nolan.
He said the passenger had not been his stepson’s fiancee, Natalie Anderson, although she had given a statement about a similar incident, at a similar location on the same date.
Mr Fairley suggested that because the first complaint had led nowhere - it was Mr O’Connor’s word against Nolan’s - Mr O’Connor had wanted to make sure he had a witness for the second incident.
“Whether or not what you told us happening with Mr Nolan is true, I am suggesting you have asked Natalie Anderson to be your witness,” said Mr Fairley, “I can’t remember asking Natalie anything like that,” said Mr O’Connor.
“Because you were frightened you would not be believed like the previous time,” continued Mr Fairley.
“To my knowledge, no,” said Mr O’Connor.
“Last chance...” said Mr Fairley.
“I can’t remember asking Natalie that,” replied Mr O’Connor.
The prosecutor withdrew the charges involving Mr O’Connor, and Lady Wise formally acquitted Nolan of them.
The trial continues.