A 30 mile taxi ride cost a Neyland man nearly £2,000, after he punched the driver and pulled up his handbrake while travelling at 50mph.

Morgan Charles Ralph, 32, of Neyland Heights, appeared via video link from Swansea prison at Haverfordwest magistrates court on Wednesday to plead guilty to assault by beating and criminal damage.

The court heard that Ralph asked a taxi driver to take him to Carmarthen from Haverfordwest on July 4, and became aggressive during the journey in a dispute over the fare.

Hannah George, prosecuting, said: “He started shouting that he had already paid the driver. When the driver Nigel Clarke told him he would take him back to Haverfordwest if he didn’t pay him, he started snarling and became aggressive.”

Ralph continued drinking from a bottle of wine, despite being told not to, and threatened to pull up the handbrake as Mr Clarke turned back towards Haverfordwest on the outskirts of Carmarthen.

Magistrates heard that Ralph then made several attempts to pull up the handbrake, and ranted and raved before punching Mr Clarke in the chest while he drove at 50mph.

Miss George said: “He then pulled up the handbrake. At this point the car locked and wobbled. The defendant persisted to try and grabble with the complainant and the vehicle came to a stop on a slip road.”

Mr Clarke got out of the car to call the police and managed to push Ralph away as he came at him.

Ralph then ‘back-heeled’ the car door causing £1,669.43 of damage.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mr Clarke stated that he had been ‘genuinely scared’ and was amazed that he had not been involved in a crash.

The court heard that Ralph had numerous previous convictions, and had been recalled to prison until June 2018 following the incident.

Jonathan Webb, defending, told the court that Ralph had sustained injury during the incident, claiming the driver acted in a ‘forceful way’.

He said: “The criminal damage was a back-heel following Mr Ralph being pushed to the floor and kicking out.”

He added: “He did not come out of it scot-free, and had cuts and bruises to his face.”

Magistrates sentenced Ralph to ten weeks in prison, to run concurrently with the sentence he was serving.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £1,969.43 in compensation to Mr Clarke, the damage to the car, court costs and charges.