Gun-toting student peppered taxi driver with pellets

A UNIVERSITY student who pulled out a gun and shot a terrified Sheffield taxi driver in the head has been locked up for six years.

Harminder Jhakra, aged 19, who Sheffield Crown Court heard had "an impressive school record" and came from a "good and caring family", asked the driver to take him back to his city centre accommodation so he could get some money.

Instead the Sheffield Hallam University student went inside, collected the ball bearing gun, and then sprayed taxi driver Mohammed Aslam with pellets.

The cabbie was lucky not to lose an eye.

Sentencing Jhakra the Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Alan Goldsack QC, told him: "You knew the gun was loaded when, without warning, you pulled it from your waistband and discharged a number of pellets.

"The first broke the driver's window, the second hit him in the temple and caused a wound.

"You then put your hand through the broken window and discharged several more pellets.

"Your victim was terrified, believing he was being shot with a real gun."

He added: "Physically, his injuries were not life-threatening but his victim impact statement shows the effect it has had on him - life changing in many respects, causing him to fear a similar incident every time he gets into his taxi.

"The physical effects could have been a lot worse - he could have lost an eye."

Sheffield Crown Court heard Jhakra was of previous good character, had just become a father, and was engaged to be married.

As well as studying, he worked 40 hours a week for a firm of solicitors and was hoping the join the RAF.

His father begged the judge not to send his son to custody.

Jhakra, originally from Moortown, Leeds, moved to Sheffield in August 2009 to begin an HND course.

On the night of the attack he had been out drinking with friends on Ecclesall Road and called a taxi in the early hours to take him back to his Boston Street flats.

When the taxi arrived Jhakra told the driver he didn't have the money to pay the fare, and handed over his mobile phone as security while he went to his room to get some cash.

Before he returned, his friends got involved in an altercation with Mr Aslam who called the police.

When Jhakra reappeared, he pulled out the air pistol and peppered Mr Aslam with bullets.

Mr Aslam told police he thought he was going to die.

He managed to drive to hospital and was treated for a puncture wound to his head and bruising to his arm.

The court heard he was left mentally scarred by the shooting, terrified of being attacked every time he got into his cab.

Jhakra pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm and possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Sending him to a young offenders' institution for six years, Judge Goldsack said: "Wounding with intent is always a very serious offence with only one possible sentence - a lengthy custodial one.

"Taking a loaded gun into the public highway and using it to shoot a taxi driver is also an offence which must be marked with a substantial sentence.

"Courts must do what they can to make the streets of this city free of guns and that means long sentences, even for young people of good character."

A spokesman for Sheffield Hallam University told The Star afterwards: "While we cannot comment on individual cases, the university has a rigorous disciplinary procedure which is implemented when students are convicted of a criminal offence."

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