A drunken Nuneaton man tugged a taxi driver’s beard before repeatedly punching him in the face after he had been collected from a family wedding reception.
Danny Nath, aged 26, of Edinburgh Road, Nuneaton, was picked up from Ansty Hall Hotel at 11pm on September 2.
When the taxi driver arrived Nath was arguing with someone at the reception, so his partner and her daughter quickly got in the back of the taxi and he eventually got in the front.
During the journey Nath became agitated and began to pull the driver’s beard
So the taxi driver pulled up, but when he challenged Nath about his behaviour, he was punched at least three times to the face, giving him a split lip.
Drunk and out of control, Nath then punched the fare metre, breaking it, before getting out of the taxi.
The bleeding cabbie drove off, and took Nath’s partner and her daughter home before calling the police who found Nath, “in an obviously drunken state” and arrested him.
When Nath, who had two previous convictions for causing damage, was interviewed after sobering up, he said he could not remember anything that had gone on.
But, told what he had done, he burst into tears and was remorseful as he accepted causing the driver’s injuries, added Mr Speed.
Nath eventually pleaded guilty to assault and criminal damage and appeared at Warwick Crown Court.
Sarah Holland, defending, said a pre-sentence report went into the pressures he was under at the time, with him being out of work, his family being made homeless and a difficulty with his partner’s pregnancy.
“All of that built up in his mind, and he turned to drink that evening. He puts it down to drowning his sorrows.
“But since then, he has referred himself to the Recovery Partnership and has the offer of employment if he retains his liberty.”
Sentencing Nath, to an 18 month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and 200 hours of unpaid work, Recorder Martine Kushner told him: “This is a particularly unpleasant offence against someone who’s in a vulnerable job.
“You assaulted him when in drink, which is absolutely no excuse. If you know you tip into violence when under the influence of alcohol, you should just not drink that much. It’s as simple as that.
“This was somebody who has to go out again and do his job, not entirely clear whether someone like you will come up and assault him again. You are undermining his livelihood.”
Nath protested from the dock that what he did had been out of character, but, telling him to shut up, Recorder Kushner remarked: “I don’t know that it is out of character, because what drink does is reduce inhibitions. So it’s in character.
“And it was not just one hit. You punched him three times and, as if that was not enough, you carried on by smashing his property. You were in a rage which had over-spilled from the reception.
“If nothing else, you might have thought the presence of the step-daughter you put forward as wanting to care for would have stopped you, but it didn’t.
“Every instinct I have suggests there should be a custodial sentence. But I’m not going to give you an immediate sentence today, but that is very much against my better judgement.
“You have come within a millimetre of an immediate custodial sentence today.”