British tourist has described his shock at discovering the Uber driver he used during a trip to the US last week turned out to be the suspect arrested in the New York City terror attack.
Damian Erskine said Sayfullo Saipov drove him to his hotel, a journey of about an hour, during which time they made small talk about cars.
“He was very polite, he helped us with our bags. I gave him five stars on Uber, which seems a bit weird now,” he told the BBC.
Saipov was arrested on Tuesday afternoon after being shot by a police officer in Lower Manhattan.
Eight people died when a pickup truck careened down a cycle path.
“When they broke the photo of the guy I recognized him and it was really weird,” said Mr Erskine.
“It’s one of those where… you just go cold and just think no it can’t be him.”
Saipov now faces the death penalty after being charged with providing material support to Isil and one count of violence and destruction of a motor vehicle causing death.
Mr Erskine said it made him feel “sick” and “almost dirty” to think he passed the time in pleasant conversation with someone accused of planning such a terrible crime.
But at the time he noticed nothing out of the ordinary about the figure behind the wheel.
“It was weird because we’d been in the taxi for about an hour – the journey to the hotel. So we talked for a long time,” he said. “You get an idea of a person. He seemed absolutely normal.
Saipov, 29, arrived in the US from Uzbekistan in 2010. He made his living driving trucks before joining Uber. The taxi service said he passed their background checks.
Mr Erskine added: “He said how one day he wished he could own a Range Rover. He said they were the height of Britishness and luxury and that kind of thing.”