Port Lincoln taxi driver Rob Castley had knocked off for the night when he was beaten and robbed in the early hours of Sunday morning after he refused to give a man a cigarette.
Mr Castley finished work at 4.45am on Sunday after a nearly 12-hour shift, and was walking from the depot building to his car when a young man asked him for a cigarette.
“Out of exhaustion when I left and locked the depot, I didn’t notice the man sitting down on a table and chairs about three metres away,” Mr Castley said.
The man asked Mr Castley for a cigarette and Mr Castley refused.
“(I thought) No, I’ve been working all night, it’s not happening,” Mr Castley said.
“That’s the line that gets you to stop and it gets you relaxed.”
The man followed Mr Castley through the carpark and told him he was going to “belt” him.
He then asked Mr Castley what he had in his bag and attempted to grab the bag multiple times.
“I kept fending him away and telling him to not be stupid,” Mr Castley said.
“When I said there’s cameras here, he threw a scarf around his head.”
The man then grabbed Mr Castley and slung him to the ground.
“I was dazed and seeing stars,” Mr Castley said.
“He then proceeded to kick the s**t out of me.”
The man escaped with Mr Castley’s bag including his night’s earnings of almost $800.
Mr Castley does not know how long he was on the ground but sometime before 5.30am he drove himself toward the police station before remembering it would be closed.
While driving he flagged down another taxi driver who proceeded to search the area for the man.
He then drove back to the depot and was taken to hospital by another taxi driver.
Mr Castley received multiple stitches and is awaiting results on a CT scan, which may confirm a hairline fracture in his eye socket.
Despite the attack, Mr Castley said he would continue driving taxis after two weeks of recovery.
Des’s Taxi executive chairman Chris Brougham said he was “gutted” Mr Castley had been assaulted.
“It’s so frustrating … you finish work and just want to go home and someone beats you up,” Mr Brougham said.
“It’s not just the driver that’s affected, it’s his wife, it’s the other people in the company.
“We all feel it and we all feel for Rob.”
Eyre and Western Local Service Area Superintendent Andrew Thiele said it appeared the attacker had some knowledge of the premises and went there with some intent.
He said police were investigating the attack and were working with Mr Castley, using security footage and had some positive leads.
He said police had focused patrols where crime often happened and the officers noted clothing “people of interest” were wearing.
“If you see anything that’s out of character or people acting suspiciously, please call police on 131 444 at the time,” Superintendent Thiele said.