A STOREFITTER robbed a taxi driver, purportedly at gunpoint, following a city centre night out with a colleague while working away from home, a court heard.

Rear seat passenger Colin Sanders held a sock containing a mobile phone to the back of the cabbie’s head, telling him it was a gun, as he drove the pair to their hotel.

Durham Crown Court heard that Sanders kept telling the driver he would shoot and struck him several times with the improvised weapon.

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Victoria Lamballe, prosecuting, said the driver handed his takings and loose change bag, plus two mobile phones, to Sanders.

Co-accused, Anthony Lewis, who was also in the back of the car, urged his colleague to calm down, but the threats continued.

The pair, who took the taxi from a rank in North Road, Durham, were eventually dropped near the Premier Inn, at the Arnison Centre, on the outskirts of the city, where they were staying.

Miss Lamballe said the driver headed for a nearby fast food restaurant to contact police, and officers arrested both Sanders and Lewis in their hotel rooms.

An abandoned sock was found outside the entrance, while the driver’s mobile phones were recovered from under a mattress and police seized £216 from the duo.

Sanders, 53, of Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, admitted robbery on the day of his scheduled trial, last month, while Lewis, 25, of Tottenham, north London, denied robbery, but admitted a money laundering offence, over possession of stolen cash.

Ciara McElvogue, for Sanders, said since serving lengthy sentences for robberies in the 1990s his offending has tailed off, and the latest was an off-the-cuff incident which he had no reason to commit, as he was not short of money at the time.

Matthew Cook, for Lewis, said he tried to calm Sanders and his only crime was to keep some of the money.

Jailing Sanders for five years, Recorder Makepeace said he put the driver through a, “terrifying ordeal”, while Lewis was given a six-month sentence, suspended for two years, with 200 hours’ unpaid work and a £425 costs order.