Sunderland robber throttled taxi driver after vodka 'bender'

Robber Dylan Walt.
Robber Dylan Walt.

A passenger choked and robbed a taxi driver after taking a journey he had no money to pay for.

A passenger choked and robbed a taxi driver after taking a journey he had no money to pay for.

Newcastle Crown Court.

Newcastle Crown Court.

Dylan Walt attacked the cabbie, who had COPD and emphysema, before taking bank notes and car keys from him during a late night attack in August.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the driver described the terrifying ordeal as "life changing" and prompted him to take early retirement from his taxi career.

The court heard Walt, who had drank a bottle of vodka and has little recollection of what he did, had been dropped off outside his mother's house in Sunderland in the nine-seater cab but did not have money for the fare.

When the 21-year-old went inside the house to see if he could get any cash, the cabbie stepped out of his vehicle.

It was while the taxi driver was standing at the road side that Walt attacked him from behind, pulled him to the ground then used the car keys to drive back and forwards, crashing into two fences in the process.

Walt eventually ran away from the stricken cabbie and his taxi.

When he was tracked down and arrested, Walt spat phlegm and blood into the face of a female police officer, which left her feeling "physically sick".

Walt, of Cheltenham Road, Hylton Castle, Sunderland, admitted robbery, aggravated vehicle taking, criminal damage, common assault, obstructing a police constable, failing to provide a specimen and driving with no licence or insurance.

Judge Edward Bindloss sentenced him to three-and-a-half years behind bars with a 33-month driving ban.

The judge told him: "You attacked him from behind, throttled him to his neck, pulled him to the ground and landed on top of him.

"You demanded money and took from him bank notes and car keys.

"This was aggravated by the fact he has poor health, he has COPD, emphysema and breathing problems.

"Your throttling him was of particular concern."

Judge Bindloss added: "This was not cool and premeditated, this was out of control aggression and violence that was spur of the moment."

The court heard the cabbie had been considering retirement at the end of this year but brought it forward to the summer.

Walt has a long criminal record which includes convictions for violence.

Vic Laffey, defending, said Walt has led a "chaotic" lifestyle but has never before committed such a serious offence.

Mr Laffey said Walt had been on a "bender" before the attack and added: "For him, this is out of character. He has acted in a way which he appreciates must be clearly, absolutely terrifying for this taxi driver.

"He is very keen to write the victim and explain himself, or try to explain himself, and apologise for what he has done."