A TEENAGER claimed he robbed two taxi drivers at knifepoint because he wanted to kill himself by driving their cars in a tree.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Kieran Atkinson committed the second offence whilst on bail and just two days after he was given a suspended prison sentence and banned from driving for separate driving offences.

The court heard that one of his victims was so terrified that he does not want to continue driving taxis.

Sentencing 19-year-old Atkinson to six years and two months in prison, Recorder Peter Atherton told him: “ A message must go out from this court, by these sentences, that this sort of intimidation and threatened violence towards taxi drivers will not be tolerated. These were very serious offences which have had a severe effect on the two drivers concerned.”

Claire Brocklebank, prosecuting, told the court how Atkinson first robbed Iqbal Mohamed of the Toyota Auris courtesy car he was driving while his own vehicle was being repaired.

At 3am on August 18 last year Mr Mohamed received a call to pick up a passenger called George from The Base in Bolton to go to Westhoughton.

When he arrived Atkinson got in and directed the driver where to go but then started referring to terrorist attacks and made racially offensive remarks to Mr Mohamed.

“The complainant simply tried to ignore him,” said Miss Brocklebank. But Atkinson then put on a balaclava and pulled out a knife, telling the driver, “Don’t move or I’ll kill you. Give me all your money out of your pockets.”

The frightened driver handed over £110 and Atkinson ordered him out of the vehicle, which the robber then drove off in.

But the car was fitted with GPS and after Mr Mohamed got to a phone box and alerted police they were able to trace it.

At 5am, after a short pursuit, Atkinson crashed the car into a garden fence on Southfield Drive, Westhoughton, and was arrested.

Then, on December 7, just two days after he had been given a suspended prison sentence for taking his mother’s car and driving without a licence or insurance, Atkinson robbed another taxi driver at knifepoint.

Driver Iqbal Gajra managed to escape his Prius when the vehicle slowed down and it was later found burned out in Peveril Street, Bolton. Police traced Atkinson because he had used his own phone number to book the taxi.

Atkinson pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and possessing a knife, taking a vehicle without consent, having no licence or insurance, driving while banned and failing to provide a specimen.

David Morton, defending, stressed that Atkinson, who committed no offences prior to August last year, has a low IQ and, at the time of the offences he suffered the death of three people close to him and was seriously depressed.

“He was in a very dark place and had a confused desire to end his own life,” he said, adding that, for the first time in his life, Atkinson had also occasionally used crack cocaine.

In addition to the prison sentence Atkinson was banned from applying for a driving licence for 49 months.