Belfast’s Deputy Recorder yesterday warned “loutish’’ passengers who assault taxi drivers that they will go to jail.
The warning from Judge Corinne Philpott QC came as she sentenced 23-year-old convicted rioter Jamie Albert Bloomer to three months’ jail.
Bloomer, also known as McCracken, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm to a Fonacab driver.
Prosecutor Kate McKay told Belfast Crown Court that Bloomer was one of three passengers the driver picked up in January 2012 from a drink-fuelled house party on the Springfield Road in west Belfast.
While en route to a house in south Belfast, she said Bloomer “put his arm around the neck” of the taxi driver who was forced to do a handbrake turn in the middle of the road. Two other male passengers fled the scene while Bloomer “took a swipe’’ at the taxi driver in the road.
“The taxi driver landed a punch on the cheek of the defendant,’’ said Ms McKay, adding that Bloomer, who has three previous convictions for riotous behaviour, then ran off in the direction of Dunville Street but was later arrested by police.
Judge Philpott QC said Bloomer had been given previous chances by the courts, including an 18-month suspended sentence for rioting.
“This behaviour cannot be allowed to go on. People need to realise that if they assault taxi drivers they will receive a custodial sentence,’’ said Judge Philpott.