THREE men have denied attacking a taxi driver to avoid an £11 fare.

Ken Wolfe, 78, of Leigh, was left with a broken jaw, broken eye socket and two lost teeth after he was punched and kicked outside Sainsbury’s in London Road, Southend.

He was taken to Southend Hospital, but later transferred to Broomfield Hospital, in Chelmsford, due to the severity of his facial injuries.

He allegedly stopped at the supermarket so one of his passengers could use the cash machine to collect money for the fare. But Mr Wolfe was then brutally attacked.

Axl Gilbert, 21, of The Russetts, Rochford; Charlie Laidlaw, 22, of Hawkwell Park Drive; and Adam Rhuebell, 24, who is remanded in custody, all denied causing grievous bodily harm with intent when they appeared at Basildon Crown Court yesterday.

The hearing was initially delayed for a short period after things became “hostile” in the custody suite.

The three will stand trial on September 22.

Rhubell, who wore a green jumper and gold necklace, and Gilbert, who wore a dark blue jumper, were remanded in custody.

Laidlaw, who wore a white shirt and black trousers, was bailed on the condition he does not use a taxi or private hire vehicle. He is also banned from contacting Mr Wolfe or his co-defendents and must stick to a curfew.