THE victim of a brutal assault has thanked the off duty police officer who came to her aid after her attacker was sentenced in Southend Magistrates’ Court last week.

The taxi driver, who asked not to be named, picked up Steve Austin, of Eastbrooks Place, Pitsea, outside the Pink Toothbrush, Rayleigh, in the early hours of August 24 last year.

Austin, a 33-year-old tiler, got in the taxi with another man and attacked the driver while she was driving the car.

She was forced to pull the car over in Rayleigh Road, Benfleet and the two men fled without paying their fare.

Austin was fined £900 and received a curfew for three months, during which time he will wear an electronic tag.

The victim said: "This was a frightening incident and I’m glad the man has been brought to justice.”

Dc Andy Copley, of Southend CID, was on his way home following a shift and saw the vehicle parked up, so stopped to help the victim.

An investigation followed and Austin was charged with assault and making off without payment.

The victim added: “Andy, and all of the police officers, who helped me were brilliant – they really went above and beyond their duties.”

Dc Copley said: "This sends a clear message to the public not to abuse taxi drivers when drunk on nights out, especially as we are now in the World Cup season.”

“The victim was really thankful for the police effort and will hopefully now have some closure following this guilty verdict.”