70 year old man ordered to pay over £1,500 for taking a job for a local cab firm without a licence 

Driving a taxi without the appropriate licence and overcharging on a fare has cost a County Durham man more than £1,500.

Durham County Council took enforcement action against William Teasdale Thompson, of St David's Close, Spennymoor, after receiving a complaint from a member of the public.

The woman had booked a taxi to take her from a supermarket in Spennymoor town centre to her home, about half a mile away. She alleged the driver charged her £5.60 for the fare and took the £1 coin when returning her trolley.

Following the complaint, the council's licensing team contacted the taxi firm the woman had booked the taxi through and was told the fare had been undertaken by Thompson, who is related to the company's owner.

Further checks revealed the 70-year-old did not hold a hackney carriage or private hire driver's licence. Thompson failed to attend the hearing at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court and the case was heard in his absence.

Magistrates heard that when interviewed by council officers, Thompson said he had visited the home of the taxi company owner in a personal capacity.

While at the property, Thompson's partner asked him to make a trip to the doctors and he was offered the use of the Hackney carriage vehicle.

Thompson, a former taxi driver, was asked if he would mind carrying out a short fare while using the vehicle.

He told officers that he had not intended to charge for the journey but when the passenger asked how much the fare would be, he asked what she would normally pay.

Thompson said he had helped the woman with her shopping bags when they arrived at her home and on return to the vehicle, found approximately £5 had been left in the central console.

Thompson was found guilty of driving a Hackney carriage vehicle without a Hackney carriage drivers' licence, overcharging on a fare and driving without insurance.

He received a £1,100 fine and was ordered to pay costs of £419.20 and a £66 victim surcharge.

Joanne Waller, Head of Community Protection at the council, said: "Taxi licensing is in place for the protection of the public as it ensures that all licensed drivers and private hire operators are fit and proper to hold a licence.

"This prosecution proves that we will take action against those who flout the law and that the consequences of doing so can be serious, both financially and reputationally."

Image credit: Pixabay

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