Suspect in cab driver murder to appear in court Tuesday

Police are investigating after a cab driver was beaten to death in southwest London.

Around 1 a.m Saturday, police were called to an assault taking place in the parking lot of a variety store at 925 Wonderland Rd S.

Once on scene, officers found a male with no vital signs.

He was taken to LHSC but was pronounced dead once there.

The victim has been identified as Vijay Bhatia, 64, of London, a 20-year-plus veteran taxi driver.

Bhatia was driving for Blue and White Taxi at the time of the incident.

Police say Bhatia picked up two passengers and drove them to the parking lot on Wonderland Road where he was assaulted by one of them.

Officers were able to locate the pair and were arrested.

One person has been released from custody without charges.

Cody Perkin, 23, of London, is charged with second degree murder, one count of assault and one count of uttering threats in relation to a separate victim, who sustained minor injuries.

He remains in custody and will appear in court on May 2.

Hassan Savehilaghi, former president of the London Taxi Association was a friend of Bhatia's for 20 years and got emotional when he spoke to CTV News.

"It is really sad...I'm sorry, I've known him for nearly 20 years," said Savehilaghi as he tried to compose himself. "It is a risky job, it is very stressful," added Savehilaghi.

CTV News also spoke with two people who say they witnessed the incident from their apartment across the street, but did not want to be identified.

"I saw the guy get pulled from his car and beaten to death."

"We're on the tenth floor. This is a really safe area, when you hear about Westmount. It's shocking, it's so close," said the witness.

"This was a senseless, needless, murder. It's disgusting says the owner of Blue and White Taxi Jason Kukurudziak.

 He was able to use security footage from an interior video camera to aid investigators.

"The cameras did its job. They have beautiful picturs of the guy who was in the front seat with Vijay. I didn't want to see the content, but wanted to make sure the pictures were good," says Kukurudziak.

Police are urging anyone who may have witnessed the events of Saturday morning to come forward and speak with them.

"We'd appreciate any information even if you feel it's not significant," says London police Cst. Jessica Mullen.