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Private hire driver banned after using unlicensed vehicle for airport transfers

06/05/2013

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Plymouth taxi driver is banned after using his own car

By SIAN DAVIES Herald Reporter, Monday, May 06, 2013

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Plymouth Herald

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THE owner of a taxi firm has been banned from driving after being found guilty of nine motoring offences – including using an un-licensed vehicle for private hire and not having the correct insurance.

Jeremy Stevens, aged 45, from Weir Road, Mainstone, was ordered to pay fines and costs of more than £2,000 as well as receiving a 6-month driving ban and 30 points on his licence.

Mr Stevens, who runs Pilgrim Pick-ups, appeared at Plymouth Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to nine charges.

He was charged with using his own car as a private hire vehicle knowing it didn’t have a private hire vehicle licence and permitting it to be used by other drivers, namely his wife Amanda Stevens, aged 35, and brother-in-law David Kitchin, aged 23, of Oak Drive, Crownhill.

Mr Stevens was also charged for taking bookings for the vehicle knowing it had no private hire licence and using the vehicle although it wasn’t insured correctly, namely that the policy of insurance did not cover the use of the vehicle for hire and reward.

Amanda Stevens, of the same address, also faced a charge of driving an unlicensed vehicle without the correct insurance.

David Kitchin faced two charges, relating to lack of insurance and driving a vehicle which did not have a private hire licence.

Plymouth County Council withdrew the charges against another driver, Arthur Lavers, and the Chair of the Magistrates Bench said he was free to go.

The prosecution, for Plymouth County Council, said that on multiple occasions in September 2012 Jeremy Stevens drove customers of Pilgrim Pick-ups for transfers to airports such as Bristol, Exeter and Heathrow without the correct licence or insurance.

The court heard that Mr Stevens had the correct licences and insurance for two vehicles, however he used a third which was not correctly covered.

In an interview under caution, Mr Stevens had said that he had intended to get the vehicle insured and registered but due to financial pressures and foolishness he didn’t.

The prosecution said that these actions put customers at risk because they may not have been insured in the event of an accident, and the business gained an advantage over other businesses.

Mr Dyke, defending the trio, said that the correct licences and insurance had been in place from the outset for the two main vehicles, however they kept breaking down so Mr Stevens had to use his own car to carry out jobs.

Mr Dyke said: "Breakdown reports show he was having tremendous problems with the vehicles.

"He should not have done this but felt he had to because people had paid in advance."

One car was off the road for 13 weeks due to repairs and Mr Stevens paid money to other companies to complete jobs for him.

Magistrates recognised his early guilty plea, but the Chair of the Magistrates Bench said: "You put passengers at risk by knowingly driving without the correct insurance."

Mr Stevens was ordered to pay a total fine of £1100 for the nine charges, £1300 costs and £15 victim surcharge, making a total of £2415.

He also received 30 points on his licence for insurance offences, and a 6 month ban from driving.

Magistrates recognised that the couple rely on the business for their income, but also said that the sample of 21 journeys they had been presented with in the case of Mrs Stevens showed that this was not a one-off.

Mrs Stevens was ordered to pay a fine of £200, £100 in costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Mrs Stevens brother, David Kitchen, was ordered to pay £200 costs, £150 for driving without the correct licence and £150 for driving without the correct insurance – in a sample of 18 journeys.

He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £15, making a total of £550.

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