A drunk who broke a taxi driver’s eye socket after downing seven pints of lager and some shots escaped going straight to jail Friday 12th September after a judge heard he was remorseful and had saved up money to pay him compensation.


The 25-year-old punched the driver repeatedly after running up a £90 fare on a “circuitous route” from St Albans to the television studios at Elstree.


Prosecutor Michael Shaw told St Albans crown court that the driver picked up the man in St Peter’s Street, St Albans. He asked to be taken to his home in Borehamwood, but persuaded the driver to take him first to a petrol station, where he failed to obtain any cash, and then around to Elstree where he said he would find a friend who would pay.


At the studios the passenger called out for a friend, who was working on security. The driver feared he was not going to be paid and went over. When he asked for his money the passenger punched him a number of times in the face, before the security guard pulled him off.


The police and an ambulance crew were called. The driver was taken to hospital where he was treated for a broken eye socket, which has since healed, said Mr Shaw.

The man, from Borehamwood, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm on the 6th April this year. He had no previous convictions for violence, but had some drink-related offences, the court was told.


Defence barrister Sean Smith said his client had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and showed genuine remorse from the beginning. He went on: “When the police arrived at the scene he put his hands out in anticipation of arrest. He said: ‘I just hit him. I ain’t going to deny it.”


Mr Smith said the man, who has always been in full time work, had saved £500 to pay the victim compensation.


He said: “Drink has been a problem and he is making efforts to stay sober. He needs to grow up and not appear before the courts again. He was shocked by what he had done and had not gone out to drink since.”


Mr Smith asked for his client not to be sent straight to prison, saying he could carry out unpaid work, receive alcohol treatment in the community and could be banned from pubs.

Recorder David Mayall agreed. He passed a 6 month jail sentence suspended for 18 months. The man will be supervised by probation officers for 12 months, must attend a Drinkwise course, carry out 100 hours’ unpaid work and abide by a 6 month curfew between 9.30pm and 5.30am. He must pay the driver £500 compensation and £200 prosecution costs.


The judge told the defendant: “This was a totally unprovoked attack. You broke the eye socket of a man trying to earn his wages in the middle of the night when he was attacked by a drunken yob.”