Shop robber carjacked cabbie at knifepoint

Crown Court
Crown Court
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A robber who carjacked a cabbie on Christmas Eve -  less than an hour after raiding a shop - has been jailed for 56 months.

Joe Cyril Robinson, 33, of Alexandra Road, Blackpool , admitted attempted robbery, robbery, and driving offences at Preston Crown Court, which heard the terrified taxi driver was ordered to drive to the M55 at knifepoint.

Prosecuting, David Clarke said: "It is a strange and serious set of circumstances that happened close in time."

He said 65-year-old shopkeeper Premkunar Rajanayagam saw the defendant walk into his newsagents on Lytham Road, Blackpool, at 6.30pm with his hood up.

Within seconds he appeared behind the till area, coming up to the man and pulling out a knife, which he pushed at his chest.

He was pointing with his other hand towards the till demanding it was opened - but fled when another employee approached him, not realising what was happening.

Mr Clarke added: "At around 7.20pm taxi driver Kamal Khan was made aware of a job near the Sun Inn.

" Immediately on getting into the passenger seat, the defendant had a quick glance around and pulled a knife from his left sleeve.

"He pressed the knife against his leg and demanded he drive the vehicle straight away. "

When the frightened man froze, Robinson pressed the knife to his thigh saying: " You'd better drive."

He directed his victim to take a left turn. When the cabbie saw a police van driven in opposite direction he considered crashing into it, the court was told, but Robinson also saw it and warned: " Don't do anything stupid."

Robinson started asking where he kept money.

As he shook uncontrollably through fear, he demanded he "drive more normally".

The cabbie told the robber his car was electric and only had a few miles left before it ran out - but Robinson saw the gauge had 80 miles still showing and said: "This is going to get f***ing worse for you now. You're lucky I've not stabbed you for lying to me."

Brave Mr Khan seized his chance to escape when Robinson started trying to hack the dashcam wires.

He ran onto an Esso forecourt, but shocked motorists did not help him.

As he ran into the shop to seek help. Robinson stole the Nissan Leaf taxi and the subsequent police helicopter pursuit ended in Bolton when he crashed into a police car.

Robinson wiped tears away in the dock as David Traynor, defending, told the court he had promised himself he would not get involved in drugs after serving a lengthy sentence in 2005, and had obtained full time work.

He added: "The problem he had was break up of his relationship and loss of contact with his children which affected his mental health badly and led him back into offending.

"He is determined again to sort himself out and not to reoffend."

Recorder Kevin Grice said: " The knife was one clearly capable of frightening people, indeed it was produced by you for that purpose.

"It's a very grave incident indeed."