A Leicester taxi driver was left frightened for his life after a drink and drug-fuelled passenger punched him in the side of his head and demanded he hand over all his money.
Enraged passenger, Ashley Mackley, 27, along with two other men, became aggressive after the driver asked for payment of £10 upfront.
The court heard how Mackley and his two friends became abusive and threatened to smash the black taxi's windows.
Elizabeth Dodds, prosecuting, told Leicester Crown Court that the actions of the three men made the driver "feel very uncomfortable" during the journey from the city centre to Thurmaston.
On arrival at their destination, Mackley got out of the taxi and approached the driver.
It was at this point he demanded the £10 back that he had initially given to the driver. The driver, fearing Mackley, returned the money.
The court heard how Mackley then demanded all the driver's money and punched him to the side of his head.
He then attempted to take the driver's mobile phone. The driver was able to quickly grab his phone and exit the taxi.
The defendant began to chase his victim down the street, but was unsuccessful in catching him.
As reported on Leicestershire Live, the driver rang the police and when he returned to his cab, various items had been taken - including a satellite navigation system, his driving spectacles, his taxi licence and a bag containing about £35 in change.
The driver said in a victim statement that he had never been attacked before in all his 18 years of driving a taxi.
He added, the incident left him feeling "paranoid" about which passengers were getting into his cab for about a fortnight afterwards.
The police were able to arrest Mackley when he returned to the scene and was identified by the driver.
The total value of property taken was £181.
Miss Dodds said: "He was under the influence of drink and drugs - and tested positive for cocaine at the police station."
Judge Martin Hurst called the behaviour of the defendant "disgraceful", adding: "An aggravating feature of the case is the person was carrying out a public service.
"You drank too much with your friends and took cocaine and all three were abusive and threatening in the taxi.
"It must have been frightening for the driver whose role is to take people like you home.
"When you arrived in a befuddled state you didn't think you should pay and demanded back the £10 - but didn't stop there and you punched him after deciding to take everything he had."
The judge noted that the defendant had a reference from the Exaireo Trust, which provided him with accommodation and voluntary work, which showed he "could be well behaved".
Mitigating, Michael Garvey, said the defendant was unable to remember anything of the matter, calling him a model resident where he is living.
"He wouldn't like this to happen to any of his family and offers an apology to the taxi driver and understands the upset it caused.
"He's genuinely remorseful.
"This incident can be seen as someone of a one-off," Garvey added.
The court heard how the defendant was homeless at the time of the incident, living in a garden tent, and felt suicidal.
Harvey said the two acquaintances gave him free cocaine and he acted completely out of character.
Mackley was unemployed but willing to pay compensation from his benefit money, if ordered by the court, said Mr Garvey.
Mackley, of Loughborough, was given an 18 month jail sentence, suspended for two years.
He was ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and will have to pay £240 compensation to the taxi driver at a rate of £40-a-month.
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Image: Author; David Hallam-Jones