A Middlesbrough private hire driver has appeared in court for picking up an illegal fare.
Meharban Hussain was charged with illegally plying for hire after unknowingly picking up an undercover officer after being flagged down roadside.
Hussain's private hire licence only allows him to pick up fares that have been pre-booked through an operator - unlike an hackney carriage licence holder who can be flagged down by customers.
During his hearing, which was held at Teesside Magistrates' Court , Hussain admitted "plying for hire" when he didn't hold a Hackney Carriage licence as well as driving without insurance.
The court was told of Middlesbrough Council's undercover operation which took place at the start of the year.
They heard that on 12 January, Hussain was flagged down by one of the officers on Aklam Road and asked if he could take him to the town centre.
Hussain agreed to the fare, saying: "no problem, jump in" before charging a fare of £6 fare at the end of the journey.
As reported in Teesside Live, when interviewed, Hussain admitted that the journey wasn't pre-booked through a licensed private hire operator.
Because Hussain had broken the rules of his licence, it meant his motor insurance became invalid for the trip and he was subsequently charged with driving without insurance also.
The 49-year-old, of Middlesbrough town centre, was given six penalty points on his licence, fined £136 with £437 costs and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30.
Cllr Mieka Smiles, Middlesbrough Council's executive member for culture and communities, said: "The safety and welfare of the taxi travelling public is of paramount importance, and that's why it's imperative that all operators, vehicles and drivers are properly licensed and operate within the law.
"This case is an example of the robust enforcement action we will take against those who put passengers at risk by flouting the law."
Image: Source; Flickr
Image: Author; Matthew Paul Argall