A violent prisoner, who was being taken back to custody in a taxi after receiving treatment in hospital, suddenly whipped out a razor blade and held it against the terrified driver’s neck.
Serial criminal Matthew Smith launched his escape bid when he was sitting behind the taxi driver and was handcuffed to a prison guard.
Hull Crown Court heard how police who were passing by managed to help the prison staff detain the Hull criminal outside the taxi but the “very scared” driver had been left “traumatised” and feared that he would die.
Hull Live reports that 27-year-old Smith admitted to assaulting the taxi driver causing actual bodily harm, threatening him with a blade and attempting to escape.
Prosecutor Stephen Welch stated that Smith was a serving inmate at Hull Prison at the time and was also on remand.
He had punched a cell wall at Hull Prison and injured his wrist.
He was taken to Castle Hill Hospital, Cottingham, by taxi on January 8 because no escort vehicle was available.
The use of a taxi was a “relatively regular event”, said Mr Welch.
During the return journey from hospital, Smith was sitting in a rear seat handcuffed by his left wrist to a prison officer.
“He suddenly leaned forward and grabbed the taxi driver around the neck,” said Mr Welch.
Smith shouted: “I’ve got a blade to his throat. I’ve got a blade to his throat.”
The taxi driver slammed on the brakes and there was an immediate struggle.
Prison officers immediately tried to overpower Smith and one of them grabbed his arm from the driver’s throat.
Smith was pulled out of the taxi and they were still struggling when passing police, who had recognised the prison officers, arrived and helped to detain Smith.
The taxi driver suffered a minor cut to his neck and the prison officer who was handcuffed to him suffered a stiff arm.
The driver later said: “I was lucky that I was able to react a lot quicker than he expected.
“I am traumatised by this incident. I was very scared for my own safety and believed that he would slash my neck.
“I was very scared that I might not survive this incident and did not know what this person was capable of.”
The driver did not believe that the prisoner should have been sitting directly behind him.
The razor blade that Smith had smuggled out of prison was found at the scene.
Smith had convictions for 71 previous offences, including robbery, burglary, assault, possessing a knife and affray.
He had been jailed at Leeds Crown Court on March 16 for six years and nine months for offences including assault causing actual bodily harm, threats to kill and breaching a non-molestation order.
Glenn Parsons, mitigating, said: “It was a totally foolhardy endeavour. There was never any prospect of him being able to escape, handcuffed as he was to a prison officer.”
It was more a protest at conditions at Hull Prison and the way that he felt that he was being treated.
He thought that he would be able to move to another prison and he had since been transferred to Manchester Prison.
Smith’s intention was to hold the blade to the driver’s throat and not to injure him.
Arguably, Smith had a better chance of escaping at the hospital but he waited until he was on his way back to the prison.
He never really thought that he had any chance of escaping.
His earliest release date from prison had been estimated at July 2024 before even these offences.
“He has spent many years, the majority of his adult years, serving a sentence or on remand,” said Mr Parsons.
“He knows it’s no way to live.”
Smith had a child and knew that he needed to rebuild his life when he was eventually released from prison.
Recorder Mark McKone QC told Smith: “You grabbed the taxi driver around the neck in what was a very quick movement and said: ‘I have got a blade to his throat’.
“The taxi driver braked. You struggled as you were apprehended.
“It must have been very frightening for the taxi driver and the prison officer.
“The taxi driver suffered a small cut to his neck. That could have been much more serious during the course of a struggle.
“The taxi driver has said that he was traumatised by what happened, especially as he felt the razor blade poking into his neck.
“I accept there was little prospect of the escape being successful.”
Smith was jailed for a year, to run consecutively to the sentence of six years and nine months that he is already serving.
Don’t miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond – Sign up to our daily newsletter here.