A TAXI driver in South Tyneside was taken on a terror ride by a drink and drug-fuelled knifeman.
Sami Hussain endured about 15 minutes of fear when Simon Hooper got into his Vauxhall Astra at Laygate, South Shields, while armed with a knife bearing a swastika on the handle, and demanded him to drive.
The cabbie’s ordeal only came to an end when he persuaded Hooper to let him go to a garage, where he mouthed “help me” at the cashier.
The 28-year-old driver took his chance to make a run for it during the stop-off and Hooper, who had told the cabbie he was a triple killer, was arrested by the police a short distance away.
Hooper, of Blue House Road, Hebburn, pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, having an article with a blade and possessing a small amount of cocaine.
Mr Recorder Dean Kershaw jailed the 27-year-old for 16 months.
The judge said: “People must understand, if they walk the streets with weapons of this description and not only then brandish them, but threaten people and threaten to take their life by slitting their throat, they must understand they will go to jail.”
“On May 11 this year, a gentleman, who was going about his daily business of no doubt trying to work hard and earn a living for himself, was in his vehicle, his taxi. That day changed considerably for him when you arrived.
“You threatened to slash that man’s throat.”
The court heard Mr Hussain had been sitting in his car when Hooper got into the passenger seat and demanded to be taken somewhere, while giving his correct postcode.
Despite Mr Hussain trying to explain he was not working the area, Hooper refused to leave the car.
In a bid to keep the peace, Mr Hussain agreed to drive and activated his car’s CCTV device to record what was going on. Prosecutor Neil Pallister told the court Hooper reached into his waistband when the car pulled away.
Mr Pallister said: “At that point, Mr Hussain noticed the defendant had a large knife which he was pulling out of a black sheath.
“He pulled it out of the sheath part-way, for Mr Hussain to see the blade of the weapon.
“He said the defendant removed the knife out of the sheath on three to four occasions during the journey.
“He actually showed Mr Hussain the knife and Mr Hussain noticed there was a swastika sign on the handle.”
Mr Hussain told police after his ordeal: “I honestly thought this man would stab me with the knife if I didn’t do what he said.”
The court heard Hooper had bought the knife just that day and had planned to use it as an ornament.
Peter Schofield, defending, said: “He is genuinely remorseful and makes through me a full and frank apology to Mr Hussain for what took place that day.”
The court heard Hooper has a history of depression and had mounting personal problems at the time.