Misfits star sentenced over taxi driver assualt

Misfits star Lauren Socha has been sentenced to community service for assaulting a taxi driver. Photo / Supplied
Misfits star Lauren Socha has been sentenced to community service for assaulting a taxi driver. Photo / Supplied

A Bafta-winning actress lauded for her portrayal of a young offender has been sentenced to community service for a drunken racial assault on an Asian taxi driver.

Lauren Socha, 21, who played foul-mouthed Kelly Bailey in the Channel 4 show Misfits, admitted she hit Sarkander Iqbal in the face while screaming racist abuse after a nine-hour wine and lager binge in October.

She was handed a four-month suspended jail sentence and will have to do 80 hours' unpaid work - a similar sentence to the one her character faced in Misfits.

After yesterday's hearing, Mr Iqbal described the attack in which Socha called him a "Paki" and threatened: "You don't know who I am."

The taxi driver managed to record part of the verbal assault on his mobile phone.

In the recording Socha can be heard screaming that she will get his family "lifted" out of the UK before launching into a series of insults.

Socha, who wept as she sat in the dock, had originally denied racial assault but changed her plea to guilty on the first day of her trial at Derby Crown Court.

Mr Iqbal, a 52-year-old father of two who has driven taxis for 22 years, told how Socha called him "every name under the sun" during the attack.

He said: "It was terrible. She called me a Paki, a dirty b******, told me to **** off back to my own country and asked what I was doing here because I was Asian."

Socha launched into her tirade against Mr Iqbal after she accused him of going the wrong way when he drove her and a friend home from another house in Derby at 1.15am on October 1.

When the taxi driver told her he knew what he was doing, she "lost it," according to Mr Iqbal.

Socha had been hailed as one of Britain's rising stars following a string of gritty roles.

She was nominated for a Bafta in 2010 for her breakthrough role in The Unloved, a film about a girl growing up in the care system.

She also starred in BBC1's mini- series Five Daughters, the story of the Ipswich murders, before winning the best supporting actress Bafta last year for Misfits.

Mr Iqbal said: "I wasn't aware who she was. To me she was just another passenger. I was shocked when I heard she was a Bafta-winning actress. If you're in the public eye, you have to set an example. The way she behaved was not good. She was racist."

Socha pleaded guilty on the basis she had "finger-prodded" Mr Iqbal rather than punched him. But prosecutor Sarah Allen said he had suffered swelling to the face after the attack.

Judge Hilary Watson said: "She may have to acknowledge she was so intoxicated her recollection is marred. His recollection was not marred. He was driving a vehicle."

The judge added: "It appears to me that you just lost it. You began to use foul and blatant racism. Your conduct on that night was despicable."

Socha - who has previously publicly claimed anyone who calls a person a "chav" is racist - was also told to pay £450 compensation to Mr Iqbal, and £750 costs.

Mark van der Zwart, defending, said: "She sincerely apologises to Mr Iqbal.

"She has done extremely well for herself, to say the least, and her own behaviour will undoubtedly affect that. She hopes her remorse and explanation will allow her to move on."

- Daily Mail

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