Tonbridge rugby player's shame at attack on cabbie in fare row
A PROMINENT Tonbridge rugby player and charity fundraiser has told of his shame after being sentenced for attacking a taxi driver.
Former Tonbridge Juddians club captain Tony Stolton, of Higham Lane, knocked 65-year-old cabbie Edward Bingle unconscious in a row over a fare.
Stolton argued it was an accident but on Wednesday Sevenoaks magistrates disagreed, handing out a suspended jail sentence and ordering him to carry out 200 hours' community work for what they described as an intentional assault.
The 42-year-old told the Courier: "I felt totally embarrassed when I found out how old he was.
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"I think I handled the situation very poorly, to be honest."
Stolton had been at a rugby function in Vigo on October 8 and, at about 10.30pm, had called for a taxi, which was driven by Mr Bingle of Borough Green Taxis.
Upon arriving at Stolton's house, Mr Bingle said a drunken Stolton refused to pay the £18 taxi fare, took his mobile phone from him as he picked it up to call for help and then punched him in the face.
Stolton had previously admitted the assault causing actual bodily harm but told the court it was unintentional, saying: "He had hold of my cuff. I'd had a drink and I just swung my arm.
"I didn't intend to hit him – I'm over 20 stone. It was just a reckless swing of the arm."
The court was told Mr Bingle had suffered a cracked nose and cheek and had been treated at hospital after being knocked unconscious by the blow.
He told the court of his terror, saying: "I knew he was volatile but I just wanted to get him home.
"Then we were in a dark lane and I didn't know the road. I'd no idea what was going to happen."
When he regained consciousness, Mr Bingle was able to radio his bosses who then called for help.
"I was very scared because I didn't know how long I'd been unconscious," he tearfully told the court.
Outside court, Stolton told the Courier he had "been a little hard done by".
The dad of two said: "This whole thing has been dreadful but I'm just going to pick things up again and try to move past it."
Stolton, who runs an electrical business, is a well-known community figure in Tonbridge, raising thousands of pounds for different charities, including Hospice in the Weald. He said he was determined to continue his charity work.
Stolton was ordered to pay £500 compensation to Mr Bingle and £365 costs. His jail sentence of 60 days was suspended for two years.