Lancaster thug snatched taxi driver's wallet
A taxi driver was pinned to his seat by a fare dodging passenger who stole his takings.
Sam Cooper, 29, of Water Street, Lancaster, has a string of 12 convictions for 24 offences including theft, and had a history of dodging fares, Preston Crown Court was told.
Cabbie Vinodkana Seshadri had collected him at around 1.35am on Boxing Day 2019 after he made a booking under a false name, and was instructed to take him to the Ridge area of the city.
But the driver became suspicious when Cooper kept changing his mind about his destination, asking instead to go to Morecambe.
Prosecuting, Brendan O'Leary said he asked for upfront payment.
He added: " Mr Cooper told him he did not have the cash on him. They arranged to stop at a cash machine at Asda on Ovangle Road in Lancaster."
Cooper then asked the cabbie to take him to another address to see if his girlfriend was there.
Cooper came back out of the address and asked the taxi driver for money to 'pay' a man in the address but Mr Seshadri refused.
By this stage the fare was £22.
The court heard Cooper suddenly leaned over and pinned him to his seat, trying to get access to his cash wallet.
The taxi was still moving at a slow speed but he managed to brake and stop.
Cooper reached into the driver's door and stole the wallet, which contained £200
The brave driver tried to lock him in but he managed to get out.
He was left with a sore neck after the struggle.
In a police interview Cooper later tried to claim the cabbie had snatched £40 from him and he wanted to get £20 back.
He admitted assault and theft.
Judge Philip Parry sentenced him to an 18 month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work, and a 25 day rehabilitation order.
He was ordered to pay £200 compensation.
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