Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Ethan Hughes jailed over M8 taxi attack

Murray D'Angelo Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Murray D'Angelo died in the accident on the M8 motorway on the outskirts of Edinburgh

A West Lothian man who admitted assaulting a taxi driver on the M8 motorway has been jailed for 26 months.

Ethan Hughes, 23, was also given a 12 months supervised release order having pled guilty to assaulting driver Jan Smialek.

A third man, Murray D'Angelo, 28, died after being struck by two cars when he left the taxi.

The incident happened on the outskirts of Edinburgh at 06:15 on 6 December last year.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how Hughes, Mr D'Angelo and another man had been picked up by Mr Smialek from outside a house in Edinburgh.

The trio had been at a function at Tynecastle Stadium before going to a party, where they had been drinking.

Began fighting

Hughes got into the front passenger seat, while the two other men sat in the rear. Mr Smialek was asked to go to Chesser Avenue and then Livingston.

Fiscal depute Brian Robertson told Sheriff Alistair Noble that an argument had broken out when one of the passengers wanted to go to Livingston first.

The driver began to head for Livingston, but the argument escalated and the men in the rear seats began fighting with each other.

Mr Robertson said Hughes shouted at his two companions to stop, and told the driver to stop the car.

Image caption The incident happened between the Hermiston and Gogar junctions

Mr Smialek pulled the taxi over onto the hard shoulder between the Hermiston and Gogar junctions of the M8, at which point Hughes attempted to calm the other two men down.

Mr Robertson said: "The driver was concerned that the incident was escalating and pressed the emergency button. Control asked if everything was OK and the driver said 'No' and asked for the police to be contacted".

The fiscal said the situation appeared to calm down and the driver contacted his control room and told them not to call the police.

"The end of the phone call was heard by the accused" said Mr Robertson. "He heard the word 'police' and produced a curved hunting knife, brandished it at the driver and threatened to kill him if he didn't go to Livingston".

The fiscal said there was a struggle and Mr Smialek was struck in the eye with the knife.

'Visibly terrified'

He added: "While the accused was distracted, he (Smialek) jumped out of the taxi. He ran across two carriageways of the M8 in the dark.

"A lorry driver saw the complainer standing on the hard shoulder, waving his arms, and radioed 999 about a pedestrian being on the roadway".

Mr Smialek got into the cab and told the lorry driver what had happened.

Mr Robertson said the taxi driver had been "visibly terrified and distressed", adding: "He had scratches to his eye and considered himself lucky not to lose it".

Mr D'Angelo had also left the taxi during the incident, and was killed after being struck by two vehicles on the carriageway.

Defence solicitor Andrew Aitken said Hughes had expressed remorse throughout the proceedings, not just to Mr Smialek, but to his friend, Murray D'Angelo, who was killed as a result of the incident.

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