TEENAGERS who lured taxi drivers into a series of New Year attacks and robberies have been jailed.
Ryan Costello, 18, and Anthony Graham, 19, attempted to rob four separate taxi drivers over two nights starting in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
Bolton Crown Court heard how one of the drivers was so badly hurt that his life has been ruined and the teenagers are regarded as so dangerous that the court imposed an extended sentence for public protection.
Judge Richard Gioserano sentenced Costello to six years and nine months in custody and Graham to seven years and two months. They will each spend an additional three years on licence.
The court heard how the defendants called Royal Taxis in Bury asking for a taxi on what is the busiest night of the year for taxi drivers.
Javed Ahmed picked up the pair from Coronation Road, Radcliffe, taking them on a round trip to get pizza.
But on their return Costello produced a knife which he held to Mr Ahmed’s throat and shouted: “Give me your money, give me everything, give me your phone.”
Craig Macgregor, prosecuting, said: “Mr Ahmed was very scared — he could feel the sharp blade against his throat. He thought he was going to be cut. Then the blade was held to his left cheek.”
The driver managed to escape the car and scream for help, at which point the defendants ran away.
Undeterred, the teenagers then called Royal Peel Cars to Coronation Road at 4.30am and driver Abdul Anjum arrived.
While Graham asked him to open the door, Costello held up an eight inch bladed machete and “brought it down with force” towards Mr Anjum’s head.
The taxi driver was then pulled out of the car by Graham, with Mr Anjum telling the robbers to take his money.
But Graham continued to punch the victim in the head and back, laughing as he rained down blows.
“Graham was saying ‘you should be recording this’ and at this point Costello then used the machete to hit him (Mr Anjum) on his leg just below his knee,” said Mr Macgregor.
The teenagers then stole £350 before running off.
The court heard how Mr Anjum had to have an operation on his leg and, in a statement read out in court said: “I feel like this has destroyed my life. I have lost my independence and I am scared and paranoid.
“I do not trust people any more. I can walk but I have to keep stopping to rest between and it is very painful.
“I am unable to pray because I can’t kneel down and I struggle to get to the mosque. It has had a huge impact on my life.
“This incident has destroyed my plans for the future, I don’t how long it will be before I get better or if I will get better at all.”
In the early hours of the next day the pair targeted another two taxi drivers.
Mohammed Ahmed, from Swiftline Taxis, picked them up at 2.45am on Coronation Road and the court heard how Costello, sat in the back of the vehicle, was bragging about the “attempted murder” of Mr Anjum the previous night.
When the taxi stopped in Coppice Street Costello, said to have been armed with a meat cleaver, and Graham demanded money from Mr Ahmed.
The final victim was Ibrahim Ali who works for Magnum Taxis.
He was called to Mossfield Close in Bury and as the defendants got to the taxi they told him to get his money out.
Mr Ali called the police and both youths were found at a flat in the street, where police retrieved a hunting knife with an eight inch blade and a meat cleaver.
A phone was also recovered which had been used to call all four taxis.
Costello, of Coronation Road, Radcliffe and Graham, of Mossfield Close, Bury, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and wounding with intent.
The court heard how both defendants had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs when the offences were committed.
Mark Friend defending Costello said: “He is still haunted by what he did and it’s clear that the defendant has had a very difficult start in life.”
Michael Lea, defending Graham said: “He has had a troubled childhood and a troubled family background.
“He had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs which is no excuse, but that’s the position that he was in.”
Passing sentence on the teenagers, Judge Richard Gioserano said: “You, Ryan Costello, issued a merciless attack on a defenceless man, you attacked him before he had the chance to say that you could take his money.
“He was a man at night working alone providing a public service and he was outnumbered and defenceless and it had a devastating effect on his life.
“It was not an isolated attack and instead you repeatedly lured in other taxi drivers to attack them.
“One night’s violence was not enough to you two and you moved on to your next victim, leaving the last victim to live with what you did to him for the rest of his life.
“Both of you pose a significant risk of serious harm to the public.”