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19 March 2011, 08:03
A 'moment of drunken madness' led two 22 year old men to viciously rob a taxi driver who was working in the early hours to earn an honest living.
Judge Anthony Hughes said: "The taxi drivers of Luton have the right to be protected and the sentence must send a message to anyone else who thinks they can attack a taxi driver in this way.
"This was a moment of drunken madness. Your victim was a defenceless taxi driver earning an honest living. He did not expect to be punched, kicked, assaulted and robbed.
"If you had not been in drink this would not have happened."
Liam Hegarty, of Winchester Gardens, Luton was jailed for 29 months and Lee Durnin, of Brompton Close was jailed for 27 months at Luton Crown Court on Friday. They both pleaded guilty to robbery.
Prosecutor Cameron Crowe said the taxi driver picked the pair up in Marsh Farm at 3 am on April 27th last year and took them to Pomfret Avenue, Luton.
"The conversation on the journey was amiable but the atmosphere changed when they reached their destination. Hegarty grabbed the drive around the throat and demanded his money. Durnin opened the driver's door and the victim produced a £20 note and handed it over."
But, the court was told the assault continued as more money was demanded. At one stage the taxi driver managed to get away but he was chased and caught and beaten again. He got away but saw the men return to his cab and take his money bag.
Police caught the pair nearby and they appeared very drunk. The driver was taken to hospital for observation. He told police he is now fearful that he may be robbed again.
Lawyers for both men said the offence was not pre planned. Hegarty instigated it but Durnin joined in.