Taxi driver sprayed in face by carjackers

A TAXI driver was left blinded when he was sprayed in the face with a chemical in a terrifying late night carjacking.

The attack sparked a high-speed chase through Hartlepool that lasted eight miles and only came to an end when the Skoda Octavia crashed through a fence on a residential estate.

It came after the 41-year-old victim picked up a group of two men and two women at around 11.40pm on Monday, February 21.

Town man Wayne Rogan, 26, admitted taking the Hudson’s cab when he appeared at Teesside Crown Court yesterday.

Passengers Ian Harrison, 33, Laura Church, 20, and Sarah Lilley, 28, admitted letting themselves go along with the escapade.

Prosecuting Rupert Doswell said: “Four people got in the cab and at some point somebody sprayed something in the driver’s face.

“He got out, his eyes were streaming and the car was driven off.

“It was driven dangerously and ended up in a cul-de-sac having crashed through a fence.”

All four defendants had previously been charged with robbery and were due to stand trial yesterday.

But they admitted the lesser charges which were accepted by the prosecution and the victim.

The court heard that the driver had staggered out of his cab with his eyes streaming in Barnes Court, in the King Oswy area of Hartlepool, after he was sprayed in the face.

The cabbie, who was temporarily blinded in the attack, quickly called police who tracked the vehicle down to Station Town using the taxi’s navigation system.

During the following police pursuit, the car was chased down the B1280 country road onto the A179 and back into Hartlepool.

It eventually came to a stop in a dead end in Hindpool Close, on the Central Estate, when the defendants fled.

Church was caught at the scene, while the others were arrested later.

Rogan, of Heortnesse Road, Hartlepool, admitted aggravated vehicle taking.

Harrison, of Carlton Street, Church, of Edinburgh Grove, and Lilley, of Butterwick Road, all Hartlepool, admitted allowing themselves to be carried in the vehicle.

Rogan and Harrison were remanded in custody and Church and Lilley were granted bail.

They will all be sentenced on July 8 after reports have been prepared.