A DRUNKEN thug who claims he cannot remember headbutting and punching a taxi driver as he travelled down a busy dual carriageway at 70mph has been caged for 17 weeks.
But as Anthony Coyle was led from Hartlepool Magistrates’ in handcuffs he turned and said: “When I come out I’ll be laughing”, as justices also announced that they were quashing a community order he was serving for previously assaulting a police officer.
The 25-year-old launched the attack on the cabbie as they were travelling on the A19, on the outskirts of Hartlepool, during a journey from Horden Labour Club to Middlesbrought around 8pm.
He had been drinking and started banging on the dashboard of the cab and the driver repeatedly asked him to stop.
As a result, the defendant first headbutted the driver – who is believed to live in Crimdon – before punching him to the side of the face, dangerously knocking his glasses off while travelling at speed.
The taxi driver pulled off the A19 and into the car park of The Windmill pub, at Dalton Piercy, where he went inside and phoned police.
Coyle, of Maritime Crecent, Peterlee, pleaded guilty to assault by beating at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court last week and has now been dealt the prison term by justices.
Chairman of the bench Patricia Hutchison told him: “This assault took place on an innocent taxi driver doing a public service, doing his job, while he was travelling at considerable speed – 70mph.
“As a result of that we are sentencing you to 17 weeks custody.”
Mitigating, Matthew Agar had told justices that his client – who has a “lengthy” record – was so drunk that he “had no recollection of the incident.”
He said: “Mr Coyle cannot remember assaulting the driver or the actual journey itself.
“Having spoken to him he is very remorseful for his actions, he realises it was a stupid act on an innocent taxi driver trying to take him to his destination.
“It was carried out in drink and he was extremely intoxicated at the time.”
He added: “Most of his problems have been caused by alcohol addiction, I think it’s right to say.
“This could so easily have been avoided in the circumstances.”