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9 May 2014, 16:00
A convicted killer who tried to strangle a taxi driver while he was at the wheel of his vehicle during a robbery bid was jailed for five years today.
Christopher Davies (40) failed in an attempt to grab his victim's taking bag and was chucked out the vehicle by the driver who managed to bring it to a stop.
During the struggle with William McDonald last July, Davies bit him on the arm before the cabbie was able to break free and escape.
Mr McDonald opened the rear door of car, seized Davies and threw him out before getting back in and driving off.
A judge told Davies: "You pled guilty to attacking a vulnerable taxi driver in an attempt to rob him while you were a passenger in his taxi."
Lady Scott pointed out: "You had a belt around his neck and attempted to strangle him while he was driving."
The judge said it was "a frightening and dangerous assault" committed while Davies was freed on bail and on licence following a conviction for serious assault.
She told Davies at the High Court in Edinburgh: "You have 45 previous convictions, including serious convictions for violence and reckless conduct."
The judge said Davies had become entrenched in a lifestyle of drugs, drink and violence.
Lady Scott told Davies that he would have faced a seven-year prison term, but for his guilty plea.
She ordered that he be kept under supervision for a further three years and warned that if he breached conditions of his release he could be returned to prison.
The court heard that Davies got into the private hire vehicle at a taxi rank in Bo'ness, in West Lothian, and sat directly behind the driver before being asked to be taken to an address in nearby Grangemouth.
During the journey Davies, who was previously jailed for nine years for culpable homicide in 1996, put a belt around 60-year-old Mr McDonald's neck and made a bid to throttle him..
But advocate depute Mark McGuire earlier said "The victim managed to place his hand up in time to prevent the belt from being tightened, though the accused continued to try and do so."
Mr McDonald managed to bring his Skoda Octavia to a halt in Esslemont Road, Grangemouth, and a struggle broke out at Davies tried, but failed, to grab the takings.
The prosecutor said: "During the course of the struggle, the accused bit the victim on the arm before the driver was able to break free and escape from the vehicle."
"The victim opened the rear door of the car, seized the accused and ejected him from the vehicle before getting back into the car and driving away," said Mr McGuire.
Davies admitted assaulting and trying to rob Mr McDonald while he was working as a taxi driver by demanding money, attempting to strangle him with a belt in a moving vehicle, biting him and struggling with him on July 31 last year.
The Crown deleted further allegations that Davies pressed his thumb into the victim's eyes and threatened to blind him and exposed him to the risk of infection with hepatitis.
The court heard that unemployed Davies, of Clydesdale Street, Bo'ness, had 45 previous convictions, including culpable homicide, assault, fire-raising, public disorder and drugs.
Mr McGuire said Davies had got into Mr McDonald's vehicle at a taxi rank at East Pier Street, in Bo'ness, and asked to be taken to an address in Grangemouth, but as they got close to the destination he suddenly asked the driver to go down Esslemont Road, towards Ettrick Court in Grangemouth.
Before launching the attack Davies told the driver: "I'm going to f***ing rob you, give me your money."
Following the assault Davies met up with a friend and told him he had tried to rob a taxi driver and put something round his neck.
The advocate depute said the other man "warned him that he needed to calm down, otherwise he would end up in prison for a very long".
The police were contacted after the robbery bid and after Mr McDonald was shown a selection of mug shots he immediately identified Davies as his attacker.
Davies was detained the following day in Grangemouth and when he arrived at Falkirk police station asked what he was there for and was told he had been detained over a robbery. he replied: "Oh, the taxi, that was stupid."