Accused cabbie killer in London, Ont. appearing in court Tuesday

Whitehorse taxi drivers may be disabling mandatory cameras, official says

The 23-year-old man accused of beating a London, Ont. taxi driver to death owed approximately $25 for a round trip fare some speculate was to pick up drugs. 

Cody Perkin is charged with second degree murder after driver Vijay Bhatia was found unconscious outside his taxi cab early Saturday morning.  

According to taxi records, Bhatia drove Perkin and another passenger to a location 5 kilometres away from a west-end apartment, waited, then returned Perkin to a convenience store next to the initial pickup spot.  

"Only the people in the car know what happened next," said Sheryl Riley of Blue & White Taxi, noting the 64-year-old victim always drove the night shift and knew many of his passengers. 

"It could have been racially motivated. It could have been about drugs or maybe failure to pay the fare." 

Video evidence

London police have video evidence taken from two cameras in Bhatia's cab, though neither record audio.

"The cameras got hundreds of beautiful clear pictures of the person sitting behind the front seat," said Jason Kukurudziak, president of Blue & White Taxi, after he handed the recordings off to police at the scene of the attack Saturday.

"It was too upsetting for me to watch, but I hope it helps convict the guy responsible for this heinous act," he said. 

The emergency button inside the taxi was activated, but it's not clear if Bhatia pushed it before being dragged out of the car, or whether it was pushed by a bystander who was responding to the victim's screams for help.

Accused known to police 

Perkin, who is scheduled to appear in a London, Ont. courthouse Tuesday via video link, has a long history of legal trouble dating back to when he was a minor. 

The same day he was charged in Bhatia's death, Perkin was also accused of assaulting a woman and uttering threats to cause bodily harm. 

Perkin, who was employed by a London landscaping company to shovel snow this past winter, describes himself on social media as a "shy person" with a 2-year-old son he calls his "pride and joy." 

Candlelight vigil planned 

Bhatia had been driving cabs in London for almost 20 years, usually doing the night shift in one of three taxis he owned. His funeral is planned for Thursday, with a public candlelight vigil planned for 6 p.m. the same evening. 

"If you want to pay tribute to this wonderful man, please come," fellow cabbie Bander Fateh said. "We will march from Westmount mall to the location of the attack."  

Blue & White Taxi is also accepting donations or messages of condolences that it will pass onto Bhatia's family.

He leaves behind his wife, 3 children and at least one grandchild.