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Champion kickboxer Ian Houillebecq terrorised York taxi driver
A DRUNK kickboxer forced a taxi driver into a terrifying journey through York then chased him into his house and stole his car keys.
Ian Paul Houillebecq, 23, then made off in the victim’s taxi and crashed nearby before being tasered by armed police, a court heard.
But today Houillebecq, who already had 18 convictions, remains a free man –after a judge said he had the “potential for greatness”.
The head of his sporting organisation said he was unlikely to have his licence suspended because he is a potential medal winner.
The taxi driver had just finished a night shift and was preparing to drive home when Houillebecq barged into the back of his cab at 5.30am in Blake Street, York, on July 28.
Houillebecq had been drunk and aggressive as he forced him to drive through York by banging the back of the driver’s seat and calling him a racist name, said Howard Shaw, prosecuting.
The driver headed home and tried to barricade himself in his house, but Houillebecq forced his way in and stole his taxi’s keys.
Despite having been previously banned from driving for five years, Houillebecq drove off in the car and crashed it so badly it had to be written off.
Police turned out an armed response team and Houillebecq was eventually arrested after officers blocked the car’s path and tasered him, said Mr Shaw. He had a bag of what police suspected was cocaine on him.
“It is not one of those cases where I need to send you to prison to protect the public,” Recorder Tahir Khan QC told Houillebecq.
“There are so many good things to be said about you that the public are better served by punishing you within the community.”
The judge said the kickboxer had “no doubt frightened the living daylights out of the complainant”. But Houillebecq had “the potential for greatness” in a kickboxing career and many supporters, he said.
He suspended a 21-month prison sentence for two years.
Both magistrates and a senior jugde had remanded Houillebecq in custody before the sentencing hearing. He had 18 previous convictions including ones for violence, dishonesty and driving offences and had previously assaulted a police officer with intent to resist arrest, the court heard.
Houillebecq, of Seventh Avenue, Tang Hall, pleaded guilty to racial assault, burglary, aggravated car snatching and driving whilst disqualified, all committed in the early hours of July 28. The judge told him to pay £500 compensation to the taxi driver for the “anguish and emotional trauma” he had suffered.
The sentence was suspended on condition Houillebecq does 12 months’ supervision, ten days of activities specified by the probation service and 180 hours’ unpaid work.
For Houillebecq, Taryn Turner said that on July 28 he had been about to start eight weeks’ of total abstinence from alcohol as he trained for the world championships.
“This was the final hurrah for him, the final opportunity for him to have a drink before he began his hard training,” she said.
He had had a “challenging upbringing” but now channelled all his energy into his sport, she added.
The taxi driver had been left in “total shock” by his ordeal, prosecutor Howard Shaw said. He had not been able to work for three weeks because of the damage to his taxi and had had to take out a loan of £13,000 for a new car.
He has flashbacks and needs sleeping pills to help him sleep while his family, following the burglary, are scared to be alone in their house. He came to England from India seven years ago and had never had any racial abuse in his four years working as a taxi driver.
After the hearing, Coun Linsay Cunningham-Cross, City of York Council’s cabinet member for crime, said: “Whilst I cannot comment on individual cases, or sentencing decisions taken under the judicial process, it is important to say that everyone has the right to expect protection from abuse or intimidation in their daily working lives.
“I would urge anyone who feels that they have been a victim of a racially aggravated crime to get in contact with their local policing team. City of York Council takes such offences very seriously and want to send out a clear message that racist abuse in any form is completely unacceptable.”
* Houillebecq’s five-year driving ban was initiated in 2008 for aggravated car snatching when a court also ordered that he could not drive legally at the end of it until he passes an extended driving test. In the same year he was convicted of drink driving and served a detention and training order. He has committed offences subsequently.
‘Good chance of a medal’
Houillebecq could now fly out to Brazil to represent Great Britain in the World Association of KickBoxing Organisations (WAKO) World Championships starting on October 1.
He was selected to compete in the 67kg category.
Peter Edwards, president of the World Association of Kickboxing Organisations, said: “We still want him to go (to the world championships) even with this on his record. I would still like to have him because he is a superb fighter.”
He added: “If he wasn’t fighting for the British team, he would probably have his licence suspended for a few months or a year. Because he has been chosen to go with the British team and he is a good fighter for the team, that comes first. He will get a warning.”
All kickboxers have to be licensed to compete. Mr Edwards said that as he was a potential medal winner, Houillebecq was unlikely to have his licence suspended because of his criminal actions, but could receive a formal warning and a talking-to from two coaches. If a kickboxer received three warnings, he would lose his licence. Houillebecq has not received a warning before.