A MAN who terrorised a taxi driver with what the victim believed was a real firearm has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Burnley Crown Court was told how cabbie Ather Naveed feared for his life when drunken Kevin McCormack came out of his house with the ‘gun’, and pointed it at him, after an early hours dispute over a fare.

Mr Naveed ducked down into his seat, thinking he was about to be shot.

The hearing was told McCormack had in fact been armed with an unloaded air rifle, which police later found propped up against the sofa in his lounge.

McCormack, 33, a father-of-one, of Oak Close, Shawforth, had admitted possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, on July 28, 2012. He was given eight months in jail, suspended for a year, and must pay £750 costs.

Prosecutor David Clarke said Mr Naveed picked up the defendant and his cousin in Rochdale, and was aware both were intoxicated.

The taxi arrived at Oak Close, McCormack went inside and his cousin stayed in the cab.

The defendant’s wife came out, offering £10 towards the fare, but Mr Naveed, who had taken the men to another address first to pick up some money towards the journey, said it was now £35.

McCormack came back out, and said he didn’t have any more money. The victim said if the fare was not paid, he would call the police.

Mr Clarke said McCormack then reappeared with a dog, and then a couple of minutes after that came out with what Mr Naveed perceived to be, at first, a shotgun. It was pointed at him. The victim reversed away back up the hill to call the police.

Jeremy Lasker, for McCormack, said the offence was completely out of character and an aberration.

Sentencing, Judge Beverley Lunt told McCormack that taxi drivers did a very difficult job. She said: “It must have been absolutely terrifying."