Knifepoint taxi raiders locked up

A MAN and teenage girl who robbed a taxi driver at knifepoint have been locked up.

Michael Hart, 28, pushed a sharp object into the driver’s neck and threatened to stab him if he did not hand over his takings.

A court heard the petrified driver, Rashed Ibrar, feared he was going to die.

As Hart held the point against Mr Ibrar’s neck, Katie Richardson, who was only 17 at the time of the attack, opened the car door and took a sat-nav and removed the car keys.

The pair, who had been passengers, ran off into the night.

The robbery happened in Seaton Carew at around 3am after Mr Ibrar drove the pair from North Tees hospital, in Stockton, and asked for the fare.

The driver became suspicious during the journey when Hart asked for the radio to be put on and was heard whispering to Richardson.

Joseph Spencer, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said: “The complainant asked Mr Hart for the fare.

“He then leant forward, held the driver back in his seat, and placed a knife across his neck, pushing the blade into the right side of his neck.

“He could feel the sharpness of the blade, and Mr Hart said to him ‘give me the money’ and ‘you are being robbed’.

“The driver pleaded with Hart, however, the defendant said ‘I will knife you’.”

Mr Ibrar, who works for Thornaby-based Royal Cars, handed over around £100 to Hart.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Ibrar said he genuinely thought he was going to die and no longer accepts jobs in certain parts of Hartlepool.

Hart was arrested shortly afterwards, hiding in the loft of a bed and breakfast in Seaton Carew where Richardson was staying.

The pair had only met that night, February 10, when Hart went with Richardson to hospital after she pulled a plaster cast off her arm.

Hart, a dad-of-one, was jailed for three years and seven months and Richardson was sentenced to two years and three months detention.

Jim Withyman, mitigating, said Hart, of South Crescent, Hartlepool, was “at rock-bottom” after splitting from his partner.

Hart claimed he used a keyring to rob the driver, and not a knife.

Mr Withyman added: “He accepts he held that metallic object to the throat of the taxi driver, and that what he did was truly frightening for that man and wishes to apologise.”

Martin Scarborough, mitigating for Richardson, now 18, of Longfellow Walk, Hartlepool, said she began drinking too much and mixing with the wrong people after suffering a miscarriage.

He said: “She does show remorse for what was clearly a very distressing situation for the taxi driver.”

Judge Howard Crowson said neither had been in serious trouble before, but added: “This night demonstrated a different side to your character.

“You robbed a man who was providing a service to the community, vulnerable as all taxi drivers are at times.

“His life has been substantially changed.”