A taxi driver who had been attending university in St. John's since arriving from Pakistan was viciously attacked by a passenger he picked up last weekend. 

Police have charged Lucas O'Keefe, 33, of Mount Pearl with assault causing bodily harm and uttering threats in the attack of a part-time Co-op Taxi driver.

The driver is working on a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering at Memorial University.

According to Co-op Taxi general manager Doug McCarthy, the cabbie picked up a man in the downtown area Sunday around 2 a.m. and drove him to the Hamlyn Road area in the city's west end. 

McCarthy said the man got out of the cab without paying his bill, and went to a house and started kicking the door. 

Doug McCarthy

Co-op Taxi general manager Doug McCarthy says one of his drivers was savagely beaten on Sunday morning. (CBC)

The driver called the cab company to ask for some advice and was told to contact police. 

By the time the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary arrived on the scene, the driver had been pulled from the car and attacked.

Sources said it took five RNC officers to get the suspect into a squad car.

The victim had a forefinger and thumb severed, and his collarbone was broken. 

McCarthy said because there was damage to the man's jaw, he is finding it difficult to speak. He is on a liquid diet because of the beating.

The driver had applied for a visa to the United States, where he was scheduled to give a presentation this week. McCarthy said the presentation could possibly lead to a scholarship. 

McCarthy added such attacks make it difficult to find drivers to work night shifts. A senior driver with Co-op Taxi was recently robbed at knife-point and will now only work day shifts in suburban areas.