A SERIAL offender has begun a six-year prison sentence after beating up a taxi driver in the middle of the night.

It was Sean Griffiths’ fourth conviction for robbery and the second within a year.

Jurors heard how Southampton cabbie Mamood Qazizede had picked up Griffiths, pictured, and a friend in Millbrook at about 4am. The pair said they had no money but offered a mobile phone and a watch as security so he could drive them to their destination where they would pay.

But the cabbie became so concerned he drove them to a short distance to a more public area where the accomplice grabbed him around the neck. Both men then punched him several times before and after G r i f f i t h s reached into a side panel and stole a bag containing about £50 in £1 coins.

Griffiths, 27, of Gatwick Close, Lordshill, was convicted of robbery and causing actual bodily harm, which put him breach of a suspended sentence imposed for another robbery for stealing a bicycle.

Griffiths however admitted one charge of shoplifting when he stole wine and alcohol from a convenience shop in Millbrook, and two counts of obstructing police called to a disturbance at a Southampton pub.

He ran off but after being caught, became aggressive, headbutting one officer and swinging his legs around before he was put into a police van.

Passing sentence, Judge Peter Ralls QC said it was a serious robbery, committed on a vulnerable taxi driver.

The court heard Griffiths had 21 previous convictions for 67 offences.