A knife-wielding thug who tried to rob a taxi driver in Kirkcaldy after his payment was declined has been jailed.
James Ross admitted assaulting Vitauts Zulps, repeatedly brandishing a knife at him and attempting to rob him of money during the incident on Saturday, February 12.
Procurator fiscal depute Claire Bremner told Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court Ross, 44, had called a taxi to the town’s Alison Street using the name ‘Johnston’ at around 5.30am.
Ross got in the taxi and asked to be taken to St Clair Street but the driver became suspicious of him and contacted his office to agree a “cash up front” fare of £15.
Ross insisted he could withdraw the money from an ATM upon arrival at his destination but the driver said he had a card machine which could take electronic payment.
The fiscal depute said Ross went back into the property he had come from and returned to the taxi with a bank card but the payment was declined.
The taxi driver then asked him to leave the vehicle and Ross became aggressive.
Sounded horn for help
Ms Bremner said: “He got out of the vehicle and opened the driver door and presented a knife and said ‘give me the money’ before saying ‘I’ll f****ng put one in you’.”
The fiscal depute said Mr Zulps agreed to give Ross the money, then took the opportunity to fend him off while shouting for help and sounding the horn.
A woman in the street heard the commotion and shouted from her bedroom window.
Ross fled the scene and police were contacted.
The court heard Mr Zulps stayed on the phone to his office throughout the incident and the call recording captured the threats and sounds of a disturbance made by Ross.
Police later identified Ross from a combination of this recording and the initial call made to book the taxi, as well as a call made 12 days before to book a fare when the same bank card was used.
Defence lawyer Graham Inch said on this occasion, although his client had been engaging with addiction services, he was using illicit drugs.
Sheriff James Williamson told Ross his record is “deplorable” with a number of convictions for violence.
He jailed him for 28 months, backdated to February 14 when he was taken into custody.