A MAN punched a taxi driver with such force it caused a bleed on his brain, a court heard.

Michael Robinson was spared jail after attacking the man during a night out in Middlesbrough, last November.

The 38-year-old was so drunk he did not realise a female passenger was already sitting inside the taxi as he demanded to be picked up after drinking in the town with friends.

Teesside Crown Court heard the driver was forced to take four unpaid weeks off work after suffered a bleed on the brain and fractured cheek bone and is now too scared to work at night after the unprovoked attack.

Jonathan Harley, prosecuting, said: “The victim is a taxi driver and covers the Middlesbrough area. He was parked in a taxi rank on Albert Street and was second or third in the row.

“He said he saw the defendant approach the windows of the taxis in front then tried to get into his taxi, but the door was locked. He shouted ‘pick me up’ and tried to open the door. The defendant became more aggressive and kicked the door. He then walked to the other side where a passenger was sitting. The victim kept trying to explain he already had a passenger.

“He punched the victim twice in the face, making contact with his nose and mouth. He got out and a scuffle ensued. A number of other drivers came to his aid and the situation was diffused before police arrived.”

Mr Harley said the victim suffered blurred vision due to a bleed on the brain as well as a black eye, cut lip and fractured cheek bone. As a result he was forced to take four weeks off work, which were unpaid, and now refuses to pick customers up at night due to fear and anxiety.

During mitigation, Kelleigh Lodge said Robinson is “genuinely sorry, accepts it was out of order and is ashamed of his behaviour”.

She added he has significantly reduced his cannabis and alcohol consumption and was going through financial troubles at the time at the time of the assault.

Addressing Robinson, Judge Deborah Sherwin said: “You were out drinking and lost your temper when you couldn’t get home. You kicked his taxi and he had a passenger in the back. You went on to punch him through the open window. That caused him to suffer serious injuries including a bleed on the brain and there is the possibility he suffered a fractured cheek bone.”

Robinson, of Kindersley Street, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm and to possession of cannabis, which was found on him during a police search.

He was handed a 35 week sentence suspended for 18 months, ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and attend 15 rehabilitation days.