A turf warfare between coach firms operating in Southall has been exposed after two men were convicted of assaulting a rival company's driver.

Inderjit Singh, of New Punjab Coaches, and his nephew Harsimran Sran attacked Balbir Singh Rai, of Rai Coaches, who they believed had poached their passengers.

Kingston Crown Court heard how they had lain in wait with two other men for the 38-year-old driver before attacking him as he helped an elderly passenger disembark at a bus stop in Hayes Road, Southall, on the evening of August 20 last year.

Jurors were told Mr Rai had run across the busy dual carriageway to the forecourt of Murco petrol station, where the assault continued, leaving him with a grazed head and bruises to his left arm and chest.

Singh, 53, of Love Lane, Iver, Buckinghamshire, and Sran, 29, of Meadow Way, Dorney Reach, Maidenhead, were convicted last Friday (July 4) of ABH (actual bodily harm). Both men were cleared of the more serious charge of robbery.

Murco petrol station, in Hayes Road, Southall
 

Summing up the evidence at the court last Thursday, the judge Recorder Ann Mulligan told jurors: "The prosecution says this was a planned group attack on Mr Rai. It says matters were taken into these men's own hands and the motive behind it was something to do with poaching customers."

Mr Rai had told the court he was punched and kicked as he lay on the ground, and he heard his attackers say words to the effect of: "We rule Middlesex. Do you know who we are?"

Sran had denied assault, telling jurors Mr Rai was the aggressor. Having punched Sran's friend after being confronted, Sran claimed, the driver then removed his shirt and beckoned the men to follow him across the road, saying 'I'll show you what I can do'.

Singh, who runs New Punjab Coaches, in Western Road, Southall, also denied taking any part in the attack. He claimed he had attended the scene following a call from a concerned passenger but had quickly left after seeing Mr Rai direct what appeared to be a gun gesture at him. Mr Rai insisted he had merely been pointing in the direction his attackers had fled.

The court was told how Mr Rai worked for his family business based in Birmingham and had ferried about 10 passengers that day on the popular route from Birmingham to Southall.

Singh and Sran both claimed Mr Rai had told those passengers he was from New Punjab Coaches, though Mr Rai denied this was the case.

When the driver announced a bus stop near Toys R Us would be his final destination, Sran claimed one passenger had called New Punjab Coaches to complain as he had expected to be dropped off at Southall Coach Station.

Sran, who owns a haulage firm, told the court he and a friend had confronted Mr Rai, initially believing he was a NPC driver who was pocketing fares for himself.

However, Chloe Fordham, prosecuting, said Singh, Sran and two accomplices who have not been arrested had been laying in wait to attack Mr Rai that day.

"Mr Rai was the victim of people with a grudge against him; people who believed he was harming their family business. He was bullied, beaten and intimidated," she told the court.

Sran and Singh are both due to be sentenced at Kingston Crown Court on July 25.