Taxi driver punched in back, chased into Centrelink by robber

A TAXI driver was setting up his car for his elderly fare when he was brazenly punched in the back by man who chased him inside Centrelink in broad daylight and then robbed him.

Jack Vernon Beckett, 21, pleaded guilty on May 5 in Rockhampton District Court to one count of robbery with violence and five other charges involving entering premises, stealing and possessing a restricted drug.

Crown prosecutor Matthew Sutton said the taxi driver was preparing for his next fare – an elderly woman – on Musgrave St on September 26, 2019, about 11am when Beckett approached him and punched him in the back, demanding money.

He said the victim handed Beckett $10 but Beckett ­demanded more and threatened violence.

Mr Sutton said the victim ran into the nearby Centrelink, chased by Beckett, who ­continued to yell threats as the victim ran past security who held Beckett back from entering.

Defence barrister Jordan Ahlstrand said Beckett was recognised by a clinical nurse inside Centrelink who had seen him fortnightly in 2017 for mental health issues.

He said Beckett returned to the taxi and took the coin ­dispenser, $40-$70 in cash and the driver’s mobile phone.

When Beckett was located by police later, he had the mobile phone on him, along with three blister packets of antibiotics.

The other counts Beckett pleaded guilty to were in relation to stealing a packet of tobacco from the Oasis Foodstore in Norman Gardens and a crime spree on August 13, 2019, breaking into cars and stealing items including a $400 brooch and prescription sunglasses.

Mr Sutton said two days after the spree, Beckett was attempting to open a car door when someone yelled out and an off-duty police officer chased Beckett.

Mr Ahlstrand said Beckett had no employment history, had been drinking alcohol since age 11, smoked marijuana from age 13 and took ­methamphetamines from age 16.

He said Beckett was on meth at the time of the robbery.

Beckett was sentenced to three years prison with 222 days presentence custody declared.

He was released on parole immediately.