A THUG punched a taxi driver several times to the back of the head after the cabbie refused to take him home without cash up front.
Aaron Wood had been in Asda, in Marina Way, Hartlepool, in the early hours of the morning when he ordered a taxi to take him home.
The cab arrived and the driver said that because the fare would be over £10 then it was policy for him to be paid up front.
Nineteen-year-old Wood demanded that the taxi driver take him home and “threatened” him.
Prosecuting, John Garside told Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court: “The taxi driver explained that it was the normal process to get money up front if the fare was going to be over £10 but Wood continued with the threatening behaviour.
“The taxi driver went inside Asda to seek assistance.
“He was talking when he was attacked by Wood from behind and he punched him several times to the back of the head.
“He then ran off along Marina Way with his friend.”
Mr Garside added that in police interview, Wood admitted assaulting the taxi driver but said the cabbie had used a swear word when calling him “scruffy”.
Mr Garside said: “Wood said he was angry because he had called him scruffy.
“The assault caused reddening to his right cheek as a result of the assault.”
Wood, of Sandringham Crescent, Horden, pleaded guilty to assault by beating on June 21.
Mitigating, Dave Smith, said his client, who was awaiting a start date for training for the armed forces, regretted the incident.
He said: “My client feels horrible for the discomfort he caused. He had been drinking in Hartlepool and this was in the early hours of the morning, about 5am.
“Having been out for a long period he was in drink and wasn’t perhaps on his best form.
“He had ordered a taxi to return to the Peterlee area.
“On the phone, when making the booking, he explained how he didn’t have any money on him but his partner did at home. The receptionist said that wouldn’t be a problem but the driver said he wasn’t prepared to do this. At the prospect of not being able to get home he became rowdy and what started out as an argument, during which he was called names, ultimately led to him first becoming threatening and then punching the injured party a few times.”
Chairman of the bench Dorreen Goode said: “This was a man at his place of work and when you start work you will realise that you wouldn’t want anything like this to happen to you.”
Mrs Goode sentenced him to 100 hours of unpaid work, and ordered him to pay £100 compensation and £85 costs.