Violent Hemel robber told he faces 10 years in prison

St Albans Crown & County Court
St Albans Crown & County Court

A man convicted of robbing a taxi driver battled dock officers and swore at the jury after receiving a prison sentence last Tuesday.

Carl Austin, 30, of Hemel Hempstead, was given a seven-year custodial sentence with a three-year extension which means he could be recalled to jail at any time up to 2028.

He shouted from the dock at St Albans Crown Court: “You lot are wrong. This is not right. How can you find me guilty? You have ruined my kids’ lives.”

As he was bundled from the court by the dock officers and police, he ranted: “F...... c.... all of you.”

Austin, of Townsend, Hemel, was convicted of robbing the taxi driver on May 16 this year by the jury’s majority decision of 10 to 2. They had been deliberating for six hours 32 minutes.

The court heard Austin had been drinking at a wake for much of the day. He got into a taxi and, after given the driver different instructions, was finally taken to Livingstone Walk in Hemel Hempstead at about 9.30pm.

He got out of the car, pulled out a knife and robbed the driver of a small amount of cash he had in a chest pocket.

In a victim personal statement read to the court, the taxi driver said: “In the evening when I go to work I get scared who is getting in my car. The incident still affects me. I turn down jobs and lose money.”

Austin had previous convictions for robbery and arson. He had been sentenced to five years with a three year extension in 2012 for the arson when a burning can of petrol was thrown at a property. In all, he had 19 convictions for 43 previous offences.

Tom Edwards, defending, said Austin previously had significant problems with alcohol and cocaine. He suffered an abusive childhood, but was now making genuine efforts to turn his life around and had been getting removal work.

Jailing him, Judge Michael Kay QC told him the taxi driver had been a “soft target.”

He said: “Taxi drivers are vulnerable and deserve the protection of the court.

“You were filled with alcohol and, when presented with the opportunity to rob someone, you did so.”

The judge told him he was to serve 4 years and 8 months in jail before he can apply for parole. The three year extension means he could face a total of 10 years in prison.