Teaching assistant jailed after St Neots taxi driver attack

A TEACHING assistant with a promising career ahead of him has been jailed for two-and-a-half years after he threatened to kill a taxi driver during a violent attack.

Robert Usher left Elias Ali in a “state of hysterical terror” after punching him to the face and kicking him in the back in an apparent attempt to impress a girl who he had hoped to spend the night with.

The 23-year-old single dad from Eynesbury had been out drinking in Cambridge to celebrate completion of an access course that would enable him to go to university and further his career.

He he got into the cab with friends but an argument ensued about the group’s final destination and the amount they were prepared to pay - Mr Ali had wanted an additional payment for going to Brampton.

Mr Ali stopped the taxi in Papworth and was attacked by Usher. The victim dialled 999 as he was being beaten but Usher stole his phone and wallet, which contained more than �200, and shouted: “I’ll kill you if you don’t take me to Brampton.”

Judge Gareth Hawkesworth told Cambridge Crown Court on Friday (June 3): “While your career success is to be applauded, to lose control in that way as a result of drink does not bode well for a life in teaching.”

He sentenced Usher, who pleaded XXXX, to 30 months in prison for robbery, adding: “It was an incredibly unpleasant offence, during which you completely lost control of yourself.”

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Judge Hawkesworth was urged to consider Usher’s young daughter, for whom the defendant had sole care, but was adamant that “only a custodial sentence can be justified”.

He also said it was “plain and obvious” that Usher’s original denial of the most serious parts of the crime, which took place at 11.45pm on xxxx this year, was an “attempt to minimise the offence for your own purposes”.

The defendant, of Cook Drive, Eynesbury, worked his way up become a school teaching assistant after starting out with temporary work in a nursery two days per week.

The court was told that Usher had set his sights on becoming a teacher but had to complete extra qualifications to gain a place in higher education.

“He has worked hard to get himself a job but this has left his career in tatters,” Mark MacDonald said in mitigation.

Usher had been sacked as a result of the conviction, Mr MacDonald confirmed.