A judge said taxi drivers deserve the protection of the courts after he jailed a fare dodger, who pulled a knife on a driver after refusing to pay for his journey.

Raymond Flower, 36, had got a taxi from Attleborough to Norwich with another man, but when they got to Heigham Street they both jumped out the taxi and refused to pay the £40 fare which had been agreed beforehand, Norwich Crown Court heard.

John Morgans, prosecuting, said the other man in the taxi ran off and Flower was rude to the driver and told him he had not got the cash.

Mr Morgans said the driver followed Flower in his car asking again for the fare.

He said Flower then stopped and rummaged in his gym bag before suddenly pulling out a craft knife and threatning the driver that he would 'open him up' if he got out the car.

In an impact statement the victim said he froze because he thought Flower was going to carry out his threat and said he looked menacing.

Mr Morgans said the victim stayed in his car but kept an eye on where Flower went and phoned police who were quickly on the scene. Police arrested Flower and recovered the knife.

Flower of Globe Place, Norwich, admitted having a bladed article and threatening behaviour on March 4, this year and was jailed 14 months.

Judge Andrew Shaw told him: 'You must have known from the start that you had no intention to pay.'

He said the taxi driver had taken the job on trust to drive him to Norwich and said: 'Taxi drivers are there to serve the public and they are entitled to protection from the courts.'

After hearing that drink lay behind Flower's offending he added:'The longer you can avoid alcohol the better the chance of you not committing offences.'

Rob Pollington, for Flower, said that he had a number of issues and had an alcohol problem but despite concerns about him in the cells he said he was satisfied he was fit to appear in court for his sentencing hearing.

He said that Flower struggled with depression and anxiety and used alcohol and drugs to self-medicate: 'He makes the wrong decision while under the influence.'

He said that he had been carrying the knife for a legal purpose until he had produced it from his bag.