Leeds cabbie stabbed in neck

A taxi driver may have escaped death by millimetres when he was stabbed in the neck by a mystery "passenger".

The motive for the south Leeds attack was still unclear last night and detectives were waiting for him to recover sufficiently to interview him about the shocking incident.

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The private hire driver, who works for Speedline Taxis, was detained in hospital last night in a "stable" condition after detectives from City and Holbeck CID earlier launched a major inquiry to trace his attacker.

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The 22-year-old victim suffered a serious wound to his neck in the incident believed to have occurred between 7pm and 8pm on Wednesday night in the Belle Isle area of Leeds.

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The weapon used is believed to have missed vital areas which could have killed the man.

Police sealed off a long stretch of the newer section of the Middleton Ring Road, Belle Isle, overnight after launching enquiries and some hours later the taxi driver's black Skoda car was still parked nearby in Hopes Farm Road covered by a police forensic protective tent.

Det Insp Paul Smith, of City and Holbeck CID, said: "Enquiries are very much ongoing and we are keen to trace anyone who saw a dark-coloured saloon private-hire car in the Middleton Ring Road area between 7pm and 8pm.

"Anyone with information is asked to contact City and Holbeck CID via 0845 6060606."

Later Mr Mohammed Latif, a director of Speedline Taxis, Burmantofts, Leeds, said the injured driver was one of its staff. He had only recently married and had worked for the firm for about four or five weeks.

He understood the driver had undergone emergency surgery on his neck. It was believed a knife had possibly been used to inflict the wound, said Mr Latif. Police had told him that if the wound had been just millimetres to the side it could have been fatal.

Mr Latif said the driver was a Leeds man of Asian origin. He understood he may have earlier dropped a friend off before he was attacked.

Mr Latif added that sadly attacks on taxi drivers appeared to be no longer a rarity and it was concerning that Council funding previously provided to half-fund the installation of closed-circuit TV cameras in taxis was being withdrawn.