A MAN who took a cabbie’s taxi for a spin around Witney before ploughing it into a row of parked cars has been jailed for 20 months.

Joseph Hammond, who attacked the driver before taking the vehicle in November, was handed the sentence at Oxford Crown Court on Thursday.

He faced charges of assault by beating, aggravated vehicle taking, drink driving and driving without insurance or a licence.

Hammond, 29, had been drinking in the centre of Witney on November 11 when, at about midnight, he went to a taxi rank and got into a Skoda Superb cab.

A negotiation over the cost quickly broke down and the driver said it was too far, sending Hammond into a rage.

Hammond began punching the driver in the left side of the face, prompting him to escape the vehicle to seek help from other drivers at the High Street rank.

At this point, Hammond moved into the driver’s seat and took off in the Skoda, travelling at ‘some speed’ and ‘frequently on the other side of the road’.

Julian Lynch, prosecuting, said Hammond was ‘considerably in drink’ and ‘weaving back and forth across the road’.

Hammond’s journey came to an abrupt end when he ploughed the taxi into four cars parked outside a Cantonese restaurant in Corn Street, causing more than £20,000 worth of damage. Some of the cars had to be written off.

Hammond fled the scene but was found a short while later and arrested.

When he was released from hospital eight-and-a-half hours after the incident, police breathalysed Hammond and found he had 43 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath, still exceeding the 35mcg limit.

Hammond had suffered with drug and alcohol addiction, as well as a difficult childhood, his defence told the court.

His barrister also said Hammond had been desperate to get back to Chipping Norton that night because he had an emergency key to his grandmother’s house there which he wanted to get back as soon as possible.

Deputy Circuit Judge Simon Wilkinson sentenced Hammond to 20 months in prison for the assault, taking the taxi and the drink driving.

He also gave him a £1,000 fine and a four-year driving ban.