Halifax knifeman who robbed terrified taxi driver in Rastrick is jailed

Luke Fitzgerald
Luke Fitzgerald

A violent criminal who played the leading role in the knifepoint robbery of a taxi driver in Rastrick has been been jailed for five years.

Luke Fitzgerald, whose previous convictions included offences of violence and stealing from a cabbie, was armed with a knife when he and co-accused Thomas Hoyle got into Zulfiqar Aziz's vehicle in the early hours of August 10 last year.

Thomas Hoyle

Thomas Hoyle

After the taxi reached Lyndhurst Road in Rastrick 25-year-old Fitzgerald, who was sat in the front passenger seat, produced the knife he was carrying and the terrified cabbie was forced to hand over about £100 in cash.

In his statement to police soon after the robbery Mr Aziz said he didn't know if he wanted to carry on being a taxi driver.

Prosecutor David McGonigal said the cabbie's wife had recently confirmed that he had taken a lot of time off work since the incident and he also had anxiety issues.

Fitzgerald, of Doncaster Street, Salterhebble, and 21-year-old Hoyle, of Woodlands Avenue, Boothtown, were both found guilty of the robbery charge by a jury at Bradford Crown Court today/yesterday (Fri).

The court heard that Fitzgerald had been committing offences since he was 13 and during the sentencing hearing he was handcuffed to a security officer in the dock.

Judge Jonathan Rose said Mr Aziz was a hardworking family man who like all taxi drivers was vulnerable because he worked alone.

He said he had not the slightest doubt that the two defendants had been drinking for hours and were drunk at the time of the robbery.

The judge said he was satisfied that Hoyle had no intention to commit a robbery but he had gone along with it because he was still under the influence of alcohol and the opportunity presented itself.

Judge Rose said Fitzgerald had been "more than prepared" to rob Mr Aziz and Hoyle had engaged in the robbery at the instigation of his co-accused.

He said Fitzgerald had been the leader in the offence and he had an appalling record for violence.

Hoyle, who no relevant previous convictions and had been in work since starting an apprenticeship at 16, was sentenced to three years in jail for his role in the robbery.