A DRUNKEN couple who tried to attack and rob taxi drivers on three terror rides were last night starting prison sentences.

Margaret Price and Lawrence Stephenson threatened the drivers and tried to escape with their takings, on pre-booked journeys between 2.30pm and 4.30pm on June 25.

Durham Crown Court heard that one driver was stabbed five times in the back of the head and neck with a kitchen knife by Price, while two others jumped out of their vehicles to escape.

Tim Gittins, prosecuting, said the driver in the first taxi managed to get out without injury in Woods Terrace, Murton, County Durham.

When he threatened to call police, the couple got out, allowing him to quickly return to the drivers' seat and pull away, although Price lashed out at the vehicle with a bottle of wine.

The second driver was hit on the back and top of the head with the bottle by Price shortly after picking up the couple in West Ellen Street, Murton, County Durham. He suffered minor neck and head injuries.

He jumped out while the vehicle was moving, before it hit a wall. Price and Stephenson fled with £37 worth of his possessions.

Mr Gittins said the third driver felt sharp pains to the back of his head and neck shortly after he picked up the couple at the Bell pub, in Horden, east Durham.

Price inflicted the injuries, but Stephenson also held a knife, and the taxi driver, fearing for his life, fled.

He was hit again as he pulled up and got out. He flag-ged down a passing police car and the pair were arrested, although Stephenson threatened an officer and had to be restrained with CS gas.

Nick Cartmell, for Price, described the incidents as "manic moments of madness" committed while in drink.

Robin Turton, for Stephenson, described him as a hopeless drunk who had never committed such serious offences before.

Stephenson, 40, and Price, 38, both of Warkworth Avenue, Horden, each admitted robbery and two counts of attempted robbery.

Price admitted a further charge of wounding with intent and Stephenson admitted criminal damage and an incident of theft of engineering equipment from Aysgarth rail station, in North Yorkshire, in September last year.

Jailing both, Judge Richard Lowden said he was treating them as a risk to the public.

Price will not be elegible for parole for at least five-and-a-half years and Stephenson will not be elegible for four-and-a-half years