Robbers who slashed Cheltenham taxi drivers' face at large
ROBBERS who slashed the face of a taxi driver responding to a pick-up call have evaded justice.
When Cheltenham cabbie John Carr drove to an address in Moors Avenue, off Tewkesbury Road, he was expecting to pick up a fare.
Instead, he was subjected to a horrific robbery attack.
Gerald Burke, 44, the man who made the call to lure Mr Carr into the trap, pleaded guilty to encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence at Gloucester Crown Court.
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He was caught after the incident, when police traced his mobile phone.
The court heard that as Mr Carr sat in his cab, two men emerged from the shadows and attacked him with a blade.
They took his £220 takings and fled. And they have never been caught.
Recorder de Navarro QC said he had "great sympathy" for Mr Carr, who had suffered "ghastly consequences" from the robbery.
The attack has shocked other taxi drivers in Cheltenham, with many admitting the job they do could be dangerous.
Jonny Horrocks, owner of Jonny Rocks Taxis, said the possibility of running into a dangerous situation was something that preyed on their minds.
He said: "It is a worry and a consideration that you have got to take on board when you are going out to a call.
"You have got the vehicle and you have got money on you. It can be very difficult, but this is our job.
"If something sounds dodgy you are looking out for any danger.
"I am ex-military so I am confident in myself, but it is a worry.
"It does play on your mind. In some places you can't even get signal on your phone so you are on your own."
He said taxi drivers often tried to assess the situation when they arrived at an address.
"If you don't know the person, the first thought is are they going to be there when I get there and then once you see the people you make that decision about the person approaching you and ask yourself if you are in trouble," he said.
A handful of drivers working from the Promenade told the Echo that everyone knew that taxi drivers carried money as they picked up fares.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one driver said: "We don't have a lot of protection. We are in normal saloon cars and it is just pot luck."
Another taxi driver said: "It doesn't surprise me.
"People know that we have money. I think we're more at risk than doormen are because they are expecting trouble."
Recorder Michael de Navarro QC sentenced Burke to 250 hours of unpaid work and placed him under supervision for a year.