Published: 14:51, 04 December 2021
| Updated: 13:56, 05 December 2021
A taxi driver has told of his terror after suddenly finding himself in the middle of a murder inquiry.
Saif Arain was booked to go to Rankine Road in Tunbridge Wells at 2.30am – just yards from Caley Road where a man's body was later discovered.
But as he arrived to pick up his fare, the rear window of his cab was blown out.
"There was a flash and a bang. I thought I had been hit by a gun," the dad-of-one recalled.
But worse was to come.
When he got out of the car he couldn't see anyone. "I thought it might have been a drunk who had thrown something at the car," he said.
"When I reached the house I could see my fare standing in the road but told him I could not drive as it was not safe and cold in the back and I was going home. But he asked if I could drop him and a girl off on my way."
As they approached Caley Road Mr Arain spotted a police car and stopped to report his broken window. But he said officers told him they were in a hurry and to call 111. "I said OK."
Seconds later, as he joined the fast lane of Caley Road a "big white car" which he said had passed him in Rankine Road tried to stop him.
He said: "It looked as if it was coming for me so I stopped the car on the side of the road. The car came from the back and hit me very strongly. Then a man got out with a knife in his hand. The guy in my front passenger seat and the girl in the back were crying and I thought all is done and that I was finished now. I was very afraid and very upset.
"I told the man I was just a taxi driver picking up fares and he said he was 'sorry' and ran off. Then other police came. I think there had been fighting."
Mr Arain has been a cabbie for five years and has worked with Express Taxies for the past two. He said: "I've never experienced anything like this before."
A murder inquiry was launched after a man was fatally injured at what is suspected to be a cannabis factory.
Police, fire and ambulance crews were alerted at 3.15am to a disturbance in Caley Road.
A resident in the street, who asked to remain anonymous, said it was believed up to eight men had arrived at the property armed with knives and an axe.
She understands they forced their way in – breaking the front door and smashing windows – and attacked the occupant before leaving in cars.
She added the house concerned had been occupied by three man, who she thinks are Albanian, for the last four years.
A neighbour is said to have discovered a discarded axe in nearby Rankine Road next to a Ford Fiesta which the police later cordoned off.
"I didn't know the men, they were very private and kept themselves to themselves, there wasn't much coming and going from the house," she said.
This evening she says the entire street smells of cannabis. Another man told KentOnline how he was walking down the street around 4am when he saw "about 15" men running while carrying cannabis plants.
"We're not talking about little plants here," he said. "We're talking about 'half trees'."
A care worker told how she was unable to leave the street around 6am as the police said the whole area was a murder scene.
Investigations are ongoing this evening with officers remaining at the scene carrying out a number of inquiries.
A witness said the smashed front door is lying in two pieces in the front garden.
In nearby Liptraps Lane, Mr Arain's taxi was parked up until it was taken away late afternoon.
The witness confirmed its rear window had been smashed and there was debris from it on the pavement.
Forensics officers have been in and out of the property all day, with police escorting residents down the road past the house.
A police spokesman has appealed for witnesses and footage.
"Officers have launched a murder investigation after a man was fatally injured," he said.
"They would like to hear from anyone who saw anything or who has information that could help.
"They are particularly keen to see any CCTV, doorbell or dashcam footage that may have been captured around the time of the offence.
"You can send information and share footage that may be able to assist our officers, through the Major Incident Public Portal, via Public Portal (mipp.police.uk)."
Anyone with information should call Kent Police on 01622 604100, quoting reference 04-0191, they said. You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers in Kent anonymously on 0800 555 111 or by visiting their website.