A CAB driver was jailed for life today for murdering a fellow taxi driver at an Edinburgh park.
Stephen Nolan, 48, from Edinburgh, had denied chasing and murdering Ebrahim Aryaei Nekoo, 41, in his black cab in Saughton Park in March last year.
A post mortem found a broken skull, 40 rib fractures which had torn into his lungs, a smashed pelvis and a wound to Mr Aryaie Nekoo’s thigh.
A Vauxhall Zafira, used by Mr Aryaie Nekoo as a private hire taxi, was parked nearby with the lights still on when he was found.
At the High Court in Glasgow today, Nolan was handed a life sentence with a punishment element part of 15 years.
Passing sentence judge Lady Wise told Nolan: “Nothing can be said today that will alleviate in any way the immeasurable loss that the family of Mr Nekoo has suffered.”
The judge told him: “The evidence showed that at no time did you apply the brakes, not even after you ran over Mr Nekoo.
“The jury clearly rejected your claims to the police that Ebrahim Nekoo came at you with a knife and that he ended up under your car by accident.”
She added: “I take into account that you have for most of your adult life been a hard working individual in regular work as a taxi driver.
“It appears that your violent action on March 24 last year was not in keeping with the good character you normally displayed.”
Jurors at the High Court in Edinburgh were shown tell-tale tyre tracks which prosecutors claimed showed how Mr Aryaei Nekoo was chased by Stephen Nolan at the wheel of his black cab.
Despite the efforts of other passers-by, including trained first aider Anne-Marie Hoy who was on her way to work at a nearby care home, and an ambulance paramedic, Mr Aryaei Nekoo died before he could be taken to hospital.
Pathologist Dr Clare Bryce said Mr Aryaei Nekoo’s injuries were consistent with being run over by a vehicle.
The court heard marks which could have been caused by clothing were found under Nolan’s black cab although forensic scientists were unable to say how Mr Aryaei Nekoo might have come to be under the wheels.
The trial was told that Nolan drove to the city’s Wester Hailes police station and told officers that the death was an unexplained accident.
He claimed it had happened after Mr Aryaei Nekoo had threatened him with a knife.
Nolan said “without a shadow of a doubt” the knife was still near to where the body had been.
Police sent an expert search team back to Saughton Park, which had already been searched once.
Apart from a small knife found in a sealed Tupperware box in the Zafira, along with fruit peelings, there was no blade.
Widow Mobina Jafari, 32, who has gone back to Iran to live since her husband’s death, was in court when the unanimous guilty verdict was returned.
Police collision expert Jack McBirnie showed the trial a map of tyre marks found in the car park at the Fords Road end of Saughton Park.
Mr McBirnie said gravel and stones had been scattered as the vehicle accelerated hard, back end swinging from side to side.
Nolan’s cab had also driven at the door of Mr Aryaei Nekoo’s Zafira, damaging it so that it would not shut properly.
Nolan did not give evidence but defence QC Donald Findlay said Mr Aryaei Nekoo went to Saughton Park for “a physical confrontation.”
The lawyer also claimed that police searches for a knife had not been thorough.
Mr Findlay said that his client does not accept criminal responsibility for what happened and said his position remains the same as it was at the trial.
He added: “He does express genuine and profound contrition for the part he knows he played in the death of Mr Nekoo because he was the driver of the car which went over him and took his life.”