THREE men who robbed a Swindon taxi driver at knifepoint have been jailed for almost 16 years.

Sending Jordan Collins, Landen McCarthy and Mitchell Rhodes down at Swindon Crown Court on Tuesday morning, Judge Jason Taylor QC said of the robbery: “It must have been terrifying for the victim.”

The trio robbed an SN1 Cars driver at knifepoint in Alexandra Road, Broadgreen, on March 1.

Audio from a CCTV camera on a nearby house captured the moment Essex man Rhodes, 27, got into the passenger seat behind the driver, placed a blade to his face and shouted: “Give me the f***ing money now, give me the money.” Collins acted as look-out down the street and McCarthy stood by the cab door, preventing the driver from escaping.

His victim, whose interview with detectives was recorded on video and played to the jury, said to police: “I told him just take anything you want. Just take, but don’t hurt me.” The victim was not cross-examined during the trial as he had returned to Pakistan at the start of the lockdown.

Rhodes stole around £40 to £60 from the cab armrest, before fleeing with his two co-defendants in a Fiat Punto down Manchester Road and off towards the County Ground.

The heavy-set six footer had denied being part of the robbery, although admitted he had been with Collins, 25, and McCarthy, 22, earlier that day. He told jurors he had been dropped off at the Rat Trap pub, Stratton, for a date – but had left his phone in the Punto.

Rhodes was arrested at Swindon Borough Council’s offices in Wat Tyler House on March 4 – his 27th birthday. The man swore at the Adver’s reporter as he was waiting to be put into a police custody van.

In October, the jury took two hours and 40 minutes to find Rhodes, who has a previous conviction for robbery and attempted robbery, guilty by a majority verdict of 10 to two. Rhodes held his head in his hands as the guilty verdict was read out.

Prosecutor David Scutt told the sentencing hearing: “It’s said by the Crown the robbery was planned and orchestrated by Mr Rhodes. He was assisted by Mr McCarthy and Collins.”

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Alexandra Road, Broadgreen Picture: GOOGLE

Robert Ward, for Rhodes, questioned whether his client was in the leading role, suggesting that the CCTV evidence did not support that. His client was remorseful and, in a letter to the judge, had resolved to learn from his mistakes and put himself in a better position upon his eventual release from prison.

Clare Fear, for McCarthy, said the man had seen his life fall apart since the offence was committed. His father had been shot dead on his doorstep in Ireland in a case of mistaken identity and he had recently become a father.

“This defendant’s main concern is not for himself but for his mother and how she will cope and also for the mother of his son and how she will cope and for himself because of his behaviour he will miss out on a not insignificant part of his child’s childhood,” she said.

Emma Handslip, for Collins, said her client had experienced a recent family tragedy. He had pleaded guilty at an earlier stage in the proceedings and realised he had made a “very, very serious mistake”. He played a lesser role in the robbery.

All the men were remorseful, their barristers said.

Rhodes, of no fixed address and appearing in court via video link from Bullingdon prison, was sentenced to seven years and one month’s imprisonment. Recent changes in the law mean that he must serve two thirds of his sentence behind bars.

McCarthy, of Westcliff-on-Sea, near Southend, who pleaded guilty on the day of his trial received five years and three months’ imprisonment.

Collins, of Clemence Street, Tower Hamlets, was jailed for three years and seven months.

Judge Taylor said: “You, Mr Rhodes, are of noticeably large stature and would undoubtedly be intimidating.

“Couple that with the aggression, the shouting and the menacing presence of Mr McCarthy – again, somebody who is very tall – blocking the means of escape it is bad enough.

“But when you reflect the fact the taxi driver was pulled back into his seat by you, Mr Rhodes, before holding a knife to his face, threatening to cut him up it is understanding in his [video] interview he said he feared for his life.”