A teenager who attempted to hijack a taxi has been jailed for three years.
Jailing 19-year-old John Paul Moore, Derry Crown Court Judge Philip Babington said ‘in this city many taxi drivers provide essential services day and night. They deserve the protection of the courts and will get the protection of the courts’.
Moore, whose address was given as c/o Hydebank Young Offenders Centre, pleaded guilty to attempted hijacking on September 10, last year.
Derry Crown Court heard Derry Crown Court heard Moore was picked up in a taxi from Rock Mills.
He asked to be taken to Abercorn Road and when they arrived he asked the taxi driver to wait for him.
A short time later he returned to the vehicle, with a toastie and drinking from a bottle.
The teen asked to be taken to the Ballymagroarty area
As they entered the estate, Moore moved to the seat behind the driver and placed an arm around the drivers neck and his hand over her mouth.
He told her ‘keep driving straight’ before telling her to pull in at the side of the road.
Moore told the woman to give him her car keys, but she refused stating her car was her livelihood.
The 19-year-old had a kitchen knife in his hands and pointed it at the victim.
The court heard the taxi driver has been ‘deeply affected’ by the incident and ‘still feels vulnerable’.
It was revealed the teenager, who had consumed a large amount of alcohol and had taken legal highs on the night in question, has been assessed as posing a high likelihood of further offending.
Passing sentence, Judge Babington said the case was aggravated by the fact the victim was a taxi driver and because there was violence and a weapon used.
He referred to a High Court ruling which states any person guilty of assaulting, hijacking or robbing a taxi driver will get a prison sentence, even if it is their first offence.
Moore was jailed for a total of three years, half of which will be spent in custody and half on licence in the community.
Local police have welcomed the jail sentence imposed in the case and have stressed they are committed to ‘robustly dealing with such incidents like this’.
Constable Lisa McKernan, from the Reducing Offending Unit, said:
”The community will, hopefully, feel safer knowing that a prolific offender has been given such a robust sentence for such a heinous crime committed against a member of the community whilst doing her job.”