Toowoomba taxi driver knifed in botched armed robbery
A 34-YEAR-OLD man who admitted stabbing a Toowoomba taxi driver during a botched armed robbery has been jailed for five years.
And, because he was on parole at the time of the incident, Dwayne Owen Wharton's sentence will start at the conclusion of his current term in June next year.
Wharton and a lady friend had hailed the taxi in the city's CBD on the night of October 20 last year, Toowoomba District Court heard.
Trying to source heroin, he had the cab driver stop at two houses until they pulled up outside a third home on Anzac Avenue.
Crown prosecutor Shontelle Petrie told the court it was then Wharton pulled a knife which he pointed toward the cab driver's neck.
The driver denied having any money and when Wharton grabbed the driver's kit bag a struggle ensued in the front seat during which the cab driver sustained cuts to his hand, the court heard.
Because tendons in his fingers had been cut, the victim had to have surgery and physiotherapy, keeping him from work for three months, Ms Petrie said.
Wharton and his friend had fled the scene but he was found by police a few days later and had been taken back into custody where he remained since.
He pleaded guilty to a charge of armed robbery and wounding.
Ms Petrie said Wharton had nine pages of criminal history which included five offences of violence, nine burglaries and 19 offences of entering premises with intent to commit a crime.
Defence barrister David Jones told the court his client had a long-standing drug problem which started with his smoking marijuana from the age of 13.
However, his client had turned to heroin after finding the body of his murdered mother when he was just 16 and home from boarding school.
His client instructed he had seen a large wad of cash in the taxi driver's shirt pocket which led to the robbery attempt but he had not received any of the money, Mr Jones said.
The incident had been captured on the taxi's CCTV camera and client had not tried to disguise himself in any way, he said.
Judge Craig Chowdhury noted Wharton's "significant" criminal history and sentenced him to five years in jail but, acknowledging his plea of guilty, ordered he be eligible to apply for release on parole as of June 4, 2019.