BREAKING NEWS: Violent passenger jailed for frenzied assault on taxi driver

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A PASSENGER who bit a taxi driver in the face during a frenzied attack has been jailed today (Friday).

James Pilgrim, 43, of Newgate Road, St Leonards, left Leigh Curtis with injuries including cuts and bruises to his face, a broken nose, broken ribs and requiring stitches to his finger.

At a court hearing at Lewes Crown Court this morning, Judge Charles Kemp described the unprovoked attack as ‘appalling’, before jailing Pilgrim for 30 months.

The assault was captured in its entirety by CCTV cameras installed in the Mr Curtis’s vehicle, which was instrumental in the prosecution of Pilgrim. The footage was played in today’s sentencing.

Mr Curtis, who has more than 30 years experience driving a taxi, has been unable to work since the attack on Tuesday, July 17 and continues to suffer flashbacks.

Just after midnight on that day, he picked Pilgrim up from the Lord Warden pub in Manor Road and drove him home to Newgate Road.

Pilgrim said he did not have the fare on him, so after confirming that he was known to the radio operator, Mr Curtis agreed that he could pay in a few days time.

As he was getting out of the taxi, Pilgrim broke a bottle of wine he was carrying, which appeared to be the trigger for him to turn nasty.

The violence escalated to the point where Pilgrim had Mr Curtis in a headlock and proceeded to bite him on the face.

It only came to an end when the handbrake was released in the struggle causing the car to roll backwards colliding with parked vehicles. The impact caused Pilgrim to release his grip.

He was arrested at the scene by police, and Mr Curtis was taken by ambulance to the Conquest for treatment.

Pilgrim pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm when he appeared at Hastings Magistrates Court on August 2. He also admitted possession of cannabis.

After today’s hearing, Mr Curtis said: “I am glad he (Pilgrim) got a prison sentence but I think it should have been double. Since the attack everything has gone wrong, both financially and emotionally. I still get flashbacks and now I don’t trust anybody. It’s horrible.”