Coventry man threatened taxi driver with machete after mistaking him for drug dealer - The Coventry Observer

10th Aug, 2022

Coventry man threatened taxi driver with machete after mistaking him for drug dealer

A MACHETE-wielding man who had mistaken a taxi driver for the drug dealer he was waiting for pulled out the blade during the heated argument that followed.

But after hearing that Mohammed Banaris had then held it at his side rather than brandishing it, a judge at Warwick Crown Court decided not to jail him.

Banaris, 25, of Deedmore Road, Coventry, who had pleaded guilty to possessing a bladed article in public, was given a six-month sentence suspended for 12 months.

Deputy Judge Richard Griffith-Jones also made him subject to a 6pm-6am electronically-tagged curfew for three months and ordered him to take part in an offender programme for 60 days.

Prosecutor John Brotherton said that at shortly after midnight on June 17 a taxi driver arrived outside a friend’s home in Heath Crescent, Coventry.

As he got out of his car to visit his friend, he was approached by Banaris, who was holding a small bottle of whisky, and asked if he was there for ‘the stuff, the white stuff.’

With no idea what Banaris was talking about, the driver walked away and into his friend’s home, but was followed by Banaris, who was not known to either man.

He was ushered out, but on the pavement an argument broke out between them, and he pulled out a machete.

Mr Brotherton said someone recorded the confrontation on a mobile phone, and pointed out: “Mr Banaris is in front of one male holding the machete by the side of his leg.

“It’s a heated exchange, but there is no brandishing of the weapon.”

The police were called, and Banaris was arrested nearby, although the machete was not recovered.

He made no comment when he was later interviewed, but on arrest he had said he had taken an unknown quantity of drugs, so was taken to A&E where tests did not support that contention, although he did test positive for cocaine.

Deputy Judge Richard Griffith-Jones commented: “It looks as though he’s taking class A drugs and is on the street hoping to get more. He is waiting for a delivery and he approaches the wrong person, and as a result there’s something of an altercation.

“He has got with him a machete which he says is for self-defence purposes, but he was not brandishing the machete.”

Mr Brotherton added that Banaris had previous convictions for dishonesty and violence, and a number for failing to comply with non-custodial sentences.

Gerry Bermingham, defending, said: “He’s not working at the moment because of personal circumstances which involve his mother and his brother.”

He explained that Banaris was the carer for his brother, who is epileptic, and his mother has a heart condition, ‘and they are both reliant on him.’

Pointing out that Banaris did not threaten anyone with the machete, he asked the judge to pass a suspended sentence, commenting: “He realises he’s in the last chance saloon, he knows he’s on the precipice.”

Sentencing Banaris, Judge Griffith-Jones told him: “This is the first time you have been in trouble for possessing an offensive weapon, but what a nasty weapon it was.

“As it happens, there is no evidence you actually threatened anyone with it, although you had it just in case.

“It seems to me a sentence of six months is warranted, but there is a very strong argument that it can be suspended.

“I am reserving any breaches to me, and you know what will happen if you come back.

“The curfew is your chance not to go to prison. If you are tempted to go out, you will be caught and you will be going down.”

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