A drunk passenger who throttled a taxi driver has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison by a judge at Newcastle Crown court. The court heard, Walt, who was drunk on a bottle of Vodka, was unable to pay for the journey to his mothers house in Sunderland so he said he would go inside to get the cash, but as the taxi driver stepped out of the vehicle, Walt attacked him from behind, pulling him to the ground. After the assault he attempted to drive the taxi away but ended up crashing into a fence. He then fled the scene. As reported in the Sunderland Echo the attacker was eventually tracked down and arrested. Whilst being restrained he spat phlegm and blood into the face of a female police officer. The court heard that this incident forced the taxi driver into early retirement and has been described as a "life changing ordeal" This terrible incident once again highlights the dangers of driving taxis late at night.