Knife-wielding taxi hijacker sentenced to four years' jail

"PULL over. Leave the car running.

Get out as quickly as you can, otherwise you could get hurt."

These were the terrifying instructions uttered to a taxi driver by a passenger brandishing a knife, moments before his cab was hijacked and taken on a high-speed chase between Maryborough and Hervey Bay.

Police pursued the stolen taxi driven by Michael William Hartley as it sped along at 140kmh after the taxi driver was forced out at Susan River on June 1.

Hartley, 35, was yesterday sentenced to four years' jail for the crime in the Hervey Bay District Court.

He pleaded guilty to armed robbery, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and dangerous operation of a vehicle at a previous court appearance.

Hartley was already on parole for a robbery when he committed the offence in the company of his girlfriend Monique Clubb.

The pair entered the taxi at Maryborough and paid the driver $100 to take them to Hervey Bay, but halfway there they realised police were looking for them, as Clubb had stolen money from a cab she'd been in earlier that night.

When a passing police car performed a U-turn and attempted to intercept the taxi, Hartley pulled out his folding knife and held it to the 62-year-old driver's chest.

Police chased the stolen taxi until it turned onto the Pialba-Torbanlea Rd, at which point the pursuit was called off because it was deemed too dangerous.

A short time later, another police officer on a motorcycle gave chase as the taxi continued along the Pialba-Burrum Heads Rd, still doing 140kmh. He too was forced to call off the pursuit.

Hartley and Clubb dumped the taxi on a rural property at Dundowran, but were quickly located by a police dog.

In court it was said that Hartley, who had an extensive criminal history dating back to 1993, had been taking illicit substances before the incident and when he was arrested he was found in possession amphetamines and syringes.

Judge Gary Long sentenced him to four years for the armed robbery, three for the dangerous operation and two-and-a-half for the unlawful use, to be served concurrently.

Hartley had already spent 138 days in custody.

His parole for the previous offence was cancelled, so he was ordered to serve a further two years and two months, taking the total sentence up to six years and two months. He will be eligible for parole in June 2015.

Clubb was convicted for her part in the episode in September and received a nine-month suspended sentence.

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