THREE men have been jailed for beating up a 78-year-old taxi driver over an £11 fair.

Thugs Adam Rhuebell, Axl Gilbert, and Charlie Laidlaw left cabbie Kenneth Wolfe with a broken eye socket and two missing teeth, after the brutal attack.

Gilbert, 21, of the Russetts, Rochford, was handed a total of ten years and ten months with an extended licence period of three years because he was deemed such a danger to the public.

In a pre-sentence report, the Essex Probation Service said Gilbert was deemed such a risk to the public, that without completing an intervention programme in prison, he was at risk of killing someone.

The attack happened on February 8, as Mr Wolfe dropped off Gilbert and Laidlaw, 22, of Hawkwell Park Drive, outside Sainsbury’s in Southend, after they told him they needed the cash machine.

The pair ran in to Rhuebell, 24, who was homeless and decided to make off without paying their fare.

CCTV footage played to Basildon Crown Court, showed Mr Wolfe get out of his car and demand they pay the fare.

The thugs then cornered him and subjected him to a brutal beating.

Mr Wolfe suffered a fractured cheek, a fractured eye socket, a broken nose and a number of missing teeth.

He still suffers flashbacks and has been unable to return to his job as a cabbie.

Tom Quinn, mitigating, read out character references from more than 30 members of Laidlaw’s friends and family who expressed their shock at the attack and described him as a usually kind man.

The court heard he helped deliver his baby after his partner went in to labour unexpectedly.

He was jailed for six years and nine months.

The court heard that Rhuebell had grown up in care and had 45 convictions for 92 offences.

He was jailed for eight years and two months with an extended licence period of three years to reflect how dangerous he is deemed.

Sentencing the three, Judge Jonathan Black, said: “Taxi drivers carry out a valuable function at night, often in the face of unwarranted abuse from clients worse for wear through drink and drugs.

“They are vulnerable to attacks such as the one carried out by you.

“Mr Wolfe was carrying out a public service on the night he was attacked, which made him particularly vulnerable and that will be treated as an aggravating factor.”