A taxi driver was subjected to a terrifying ordeal at the hands of three thugs during which he was told he would be shot if he did not hand over his receipts.
Gary Spencer lured a cab to his house using a fake name, then went out with Sean Westerby and Andre Ansell to rob the driver. CCTV in an elevator shows them ‘bouncing’, apparently under the influence of something, with Spencer motioning to headbutt and Westerby punching him in the hand.
On August 24, 2020 Newcastle Crown Court heard that Spencer had called a taxi to his home in Shieldfield, Newcastle at around 3am. The taxi driver was waiting outside in his silver car when he saw three men approaching it and two of them, Ansell and Westerby, quickly got into the back.
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Spencer tried to go up front but the door was locked. When the driver rolled down the window to say he couldn’t sit in the front due to covid rules, Spencer reached out the window and unlocked the door and walked inside. Spencer calmly told the driver, “Give me some money. We’re selling cocaine. I’m going to shoot you.”
She added: “Spencer grabbed the handbrake and pulled it so it couldn’t be released and Westerby started kicking the vehicle causing damage. Spencer hit the driver in the back of his neck before leaning over him and opening the driver’s door. He repeated his request for money saying ‘give me some money or I’ll shoot you’.”
The taxi driver handed over £80 in notes and Spencer also took £10 in coins from the center console. Meanwhile, Westerby kicked and hit the car and stole his keys.
A witness contacted the police and they found Spencer and Ansell hiding in a nearby garden. Spencer refused to hand over his phone and kicked an officer in the groin and Ansell turned out to have a screwdriver and the car keys.
The court heard some £850 of damage was done to the taxi and the driver lost three days of revenue, amounting to £300. He also lost the £90 that was stolen.
Spencer, 28, of Pandon Court, Shieldfield, Newcastle, who has 47 previous convictions, Answell, 23, of Tyneside Foyer, Newcastle, who has seven previous convictions and Westerby, 20, of Church Walk, Walker, who has two prior convictions, were initially charged with theft, but prosecutors accepted their guilty pleas of brawling and theft. Spencer also admitted to assaulting a police officer, and Westerby pleaded guilty to criminal damage.
Spencer was jailed for 21 months, Westerby got 21 months suspended for two years with 80 hours of unpaid work, and Ansell got 19 months suspended for two years with 80 hours of unpaid work.
Judge Julie Clemitson said a man kicking his driver’s door and window while another sat next to him calmly threatening to shoot him would have been frightening. She added: “I have no doubt he would have been terrified of three men, apparently under the influence of drugs, demanding money and threatening his life.
“He was targeted for his money on the grounds that he was vulnerable. This was a very serious attack on a lone taxi driver who was lured to an address in the middle of the night when he was the more vulnerable and that he was subjected to violence, threats to shoot him and had money stolen.”
Nick Peacock, for Spencer, said it was an “unpleasant incident” which was made worse by his drinking and cocaine use. He said he worked as a chef in North Shields and was petrified to be arrested.
Nick Cartmell, for Ansell, said: “He is very very sorry for the role he played. He did not inflict violence, he picked up keys lying on the ground and walked away. He accepts joint responsibility and is truly contrite.”
Brian Hegarty, for Westerby, said: “It was an unpleasant incident and he regrets his involvement. He has completely given up alcohol and surrendered to a health and fitness regimen.”