A taxi passenger who robbed and violently assaulted a driver in Gillingham has been sentenced to more than two years in prison.
Louis Betson repeatedly punched and kicked his victim after refusing to pay a fare in 2017.
Betson had requested a taxi at around 4am on 26 November 2017 and was collected from the Luton Arches area. He asked the driver to take him to an address in Thornham Road, Gillingham and was told due to the unsociable hour he would need to pay the fare in advance. Betson protested he was a regular customer and insisted a relative at the property would pay. He also surrendered his mobile phone to the driver, by way of a deposit.
When they arrived at the destination Betson failed to pay and demanded his phone be returned. He then attacked the driver, pulling him from his vehicle and subjecting him to a sustained assault. Betson also smashed the victim’s own mobile phone and stole cash from his trouser pockets.
He was arrested days later, on 30 November, but denied any wrong doing. He told police he had lost his wallet but had intended to pay. Betson also tried to blame the taxi driver, making false claims he had been provoked after the victim had slapped a relative in the face.
At Maidstone Crown Court Betson, aged 20 and of Napier Road, Gillingham, denied a charge of robbery and the case went to trial. He was found guilty by a jury and on 21 May sentenced to two years and three months imprisonment.
Detective Constables James Dark said: ’Taxi drivers do a difficult job, and provide an important service to their communities. They can sometimes be left feeling vulnerable when working late at night but should never be at risk due to unprovoked and violent attacks carried out by people like Betson. He has rightly been jailed and I hope this will provide some reassurance to the victim.’