A 22-year-old man, Pablo Hernandez, who launched a violent attack on a taxi driver, stole the vehicle, and wreaked havoc in Leeds city centre, was sentenced to seven years in prison on January 15.

The shocking incident unfolded on Friday, January 27, last year, when Hernandez booked a taxi from Hillcrest View, Harehills, at approximately 9:30 pm. Once inside the vehicle, he abruptly brandished a knife, stabbing the 41-year-old driver in the chest and shoulder. Managing to escape, the injured driver sought refuge in a nearby shop.

Subsequently, Hernandez recklessly drove the stolen Toyota Auris through the city centre, causing chaos by colliding with cars and randomly attacking pedestrians. In Aire Street, near the train station, he collided with queuing traffic, striking a 49-year-old pedestrian who was carried about 20 metres on the bonnet before being thrown off. Remarkably, the victim sustained only minor injuries, despite the car crushing his right foot.

Abandoning the stolen vehicle, Hernandez attempted to rob another taxi, assaulting the 54-year-old driver before fleeing the scene. Seeking refuge in a nearby restaurant, he grabbed two bottles of beer. A friend of a man previously struck by the stolen taxi confronted Hernandez, but the assailant struck the 53-year-old with a bottle, causing injuries.

Hernandez then engaged in further mayhem, jumping on cars and running over their roofs. Fortunately, British Transport Police officers, who happened to be nearby, intervened and successfully detained him, bringing an end to the rampage.

A diligent investigation by Leeds District CID, supported by victim accounts, Leedswatch CCTV, and witness phone footage, led to Hernandez being charged with 14 offenses. In July, he pleaded guilty to charges including Section 18 wounding with intent, Section 47 assault, theft of a vehicle, possession of a bladed article, dangerous driving, attempted robbery, and criminal damage.

At Leeds Crown Court, he was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Detective Inspector John Graham, of Leeds District CID, said: “Hernandez was responsible for a shocking catalogue of offences that occurred over a very short period of time and affected a significant number of people.

“The taxi driver he stabbed was very seriously injured and it could have easily had more tragic consequences. It was also only through good fortune that the other victims he attacked were not more seriously injured.

“His actions in the city centre on a busy Friday night were witnessed by several people who were understandably in fear at what they saw.

“British Transport Police colleagues were in the immediate vicinity and were able to detain Hernandez and bring the incident to a safe conclusion before any further harm could be caused.

“A timely and comprehensive investigation by CID officers secured all the necessary evidence to have him immediately charged, and the strength of that evidence has resulted in his guilty pleas.

“We hope the victims will be able to take some comfort from knowing that he has now had to answer for his actions with a significant term of imprisonment.”