A TAXI passenger robbed the terrified driver at knifepoint in Egremont, telling him: “Give me all your money or you will die.”

The driver was working a night shift in Whitehaven and accepted a fare on the Duke Street rank just before 5am on 4-50am.

Two men — including 27-year-old Curtis Baron — got into the back seat with an initial requested destination of Main Street.

 The destination was changed to Mirehouse in Whitehaven which is where the other passenger was dropped.

Baron asked to be taken to Egremont and, on arrival, the driver asked for a £10 fare. Prosecutor Spandrew Evans told Carlisle Crown Court: “The defendant asked if he could take a card payment, which was possible, but then told the driver he didn’t have a bank card. The defendant asked him to drive to another location where he planned to ask his mother for money.

“As they arrived the defendant reached round the seat and put a six-inch knife to his throat, saying ‘give me all your money of you will die’; and ‘if you don’t want to lose your life just give me all your notes’.”

The driver threw his wallet onto the taxi floor, telling Baron he had no notes while showing his money bag and telling him he’d dropped notes at his house.

“The defendant said ‘I don’t want to do this, but you deserve it’, which puzzled the driver; they were strangers,” said Mr Evans. “The driver stated that he was genuinely scared he would be killed.

“The defendant demanded the driver’s phone, which he refused to hand over as it contained

pictures of his family. He then demanded the dashboard cameras and meter machine.”

When assured he wouldn’t have been caught on camera, Baron got out. “He told the driver that if he got the police involved he would be hunted down and burned alive inside his taxi,”said Mr Evans.

“He drove off for a distance and then had to stop because he was shaking with shock.” He called police and was noted by an officer to be visibly distressed.

Baron stole up to £80 of coins. “He was arrested because he lives on the street on which the robbery happened. The final destination of the taxi was indeed his mother’s street and he was found in a house on that street shortly after the robbery, Police found him hiding in the loft. The money bag was found, empty,

on his bed, next to a bumbag containing a large amount of coins.

In an impact statement, the driver outlined his shock. “I am dreading going back to work. I have been driving a taxi for 33 years, and this is the first time this has happened. I am scared to go back to it in case something like this happens again,” he said.

The driver still had a knife mark on his neck the following week.

Baron, of Beck Green, Egremont, admitted robbery and having a bladed article.

In a letter written to sentencing judge Recorder Julian Shaw, Baron stated: “I’m sorry to my family, my victim’s family and most of all my victim. He doesn’t deserve what happened that night. No-one does. I was in a bad way, bad lifestyle choices and mental health.”

Baron was given a 40-month prison sentence by Recorder Shaw, who told him: “True it is you never followed up on your threat. True it is you never caused him any physical, lasting harm.

“But the psychological effect and trauma on that gentleman, performing a service to the public, late at night, in an exposed position, driving alone, at night, few witnesses, makes this a very serious offence.”