6th Dec, 2016

Drug addict threatened taxi driver with claimed HIV infected syringe

Coventry Editorial 2nd Jan, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A HOMELESS drug addict robbed a taxi driver by threatening him with a syringe he claimed was infected with HIV.

This was just two days after robbing a Coventry sandwich shop boss in the same way, a court heard.

Following his arrest, Christopher Simpson was taken to University Hospital in Coventry because of concerns for his well-being over the drugs he had been taking.

He tried to escape by breaking through the ceiling in the toilets but, alerted by a noise, officers managed to grab his legs and pull him back just in time, the court heard.

The 28-year-old, who was living in a shipping container at the time, appeared at Warwick Crown Court and was jailed for seven years.

He pleaded guilty to two charges of robbery, two counts of possessing an offensive weapon, two charges of making off without payment for petrol, causing criminal damage and attempted escape.

The court heard, at the end of July, Simpson stole £76.24 worth of petrol in a Vauxhall Corsa at two garages by driving off without paying.

The next day he and an accomplice robbed staff in Subway, on Jubilee Crescent.

Simpson pulled out a hypodermic syringe and threatened the manager saying ‘I’ve got an HIV-infected needle’.

Judge Andrew Lockhart said: “It was a blood-curdling threat to someone offering a service to members of the public.”

Simpson tried using a screwdriver to open the till and when he was unable to do so he threatened the manager again before being told where the key to the till were and escaped with £562.

Two days later Simpson got into a taxi in Bedworth and asked the driver to take him to Coventry.

When the driver pulled up in Swan Lane Simpson said ‘I’ve got HIV. I caught it from a syringe’.

He then pulled out the syringe and added ‘Look mate, I’ve got HIV. If you want to save your life, give me the money’.

Although the terrified driver tried to comply, he was too slow for Simpson who put the needle closer to his neck. He took £145 in cash together with a phone and sat-nav.

Judge Lockhart said: “That driver has been left severely traumatised by the event.”

The court heard Simpson had ten previous convictions for 24 offences including dishonesty and battery.

Kevin Saunders, defending, said Simpson was clearly desperate and fuelled by a deep-rooted drug addiction.

He added: “But he submits it will be a finished chapter in his life, and he brings himself before the court drug-free and lucid.”

The court heard Simpson told a probation officer his time on remand in prison had saved him.

Mr Saunders said: “He understands there can be few threats that are conceptually more blood-curdling than being threatened with the prospect of being infected with HIV.”

But, he added although he had been urged to do so by his accomplice in the Subway raid he did not use any actual violence.