A racist yob has avoided an immediate prison sentence after he punched a taxi driver while trying to flee without paying a fare.
Drunk Anthony Peacock became abusive and lashed out at the cabbie before telling him to "f**k off, you p**** b*****d" when he was dropped off at a McDonald's in South Tyneside.
The 40-year-old, who has no memory of the shocking incident, had tried to run from the taxi without paying the £25.60 fair but was followed by the victim.
Instead of coughing-up the cash, Peacock instantly became abusive and punched the cabbie to the left side of his head, prosecutors said.
But the abuse didn't end there as the brave victim grabbed hold of Peacock, only to be given more abuse, this time with the racist slur.
The police attended after being called by staff at McDonald's and the taxi driver himself and the drunk lout was arrested.
Peacock, formerly of Stoker Avenue, South Shields but now living in Loch Aline, in the Scottish Highlands, pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence, assault by beating and making-off without paying at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.
And, he was told by District Judge Kate Meek that he came extremely close to being sent to prison immediately.
Giving him a 20-week jail sentence, suspended for 18 months, the judge said: "There's no doubt about it in my mind, this combination of offences are so serious, it has to be a prison sentence.
"It's a sustained incident on a person working in the early hours of the morning and you're so drunk, you don't know what you're doing to a relatively isolated person.
"So far as the offences are concerned, there really is no mitigation."
The court was told that former Navy reserve Peacock had been out with friends in Newcastle city centre on September 26 last year when he got into a taxi to take him back to South Shields at around 4.20am.
Jeff Taylor, prosecuting, said Peacock was taken to McDonald's, on the Simonside Industrial Estate, and got out but, instead of paying, began to walk away.
Mr Taylor added: "The taxi driver pursued him and asked him to pay the fare. He said "Go back to your taxi or I will knock you out". The defendant then did punch the taxi driver to the left side of his head.
"The taxi driver hung on to the defendant and called out to staff in McDonald's to call the police. The defendant said 'Once you let go, I'm going to kill you'."
The court heard that the cabbie tried to ring the police himself and Peacock managed to escape, which was when he shouted "f**k off you p**** b*****d".
In a statement read to the court, the victim said: "I feel like I didn't deserve to have racist abuse aimed at me and it makes me feel uncomfortable.
"I have heard this term used towards me on many occasions but it still affects me upon hearing it."
Philippa Bell, defending, said Peacock remembered nothing of the night but had made significant progress in his life since he was jailed for a previous offence in 2015.
She added: "He's made efforts since his release from prison to abstain from offending. He moved to the Highlands and was only back in the North East for a hospital consultant appointment.
"He had then been out in Newcastle and had far too much to drink. His friends put him in a taxi and he thought it was an Uber, so he didn't need to pay as he had an account."
As well as the suspended sentence, Peacock was ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and must pay £400 compensation to the victim.
The Local Government Ombudsman has told MK Council to audit the declarations of those who have not lived in the UK for at least 20 years or have spent long periods abroad.
Such individuals are not able to get DBS criminal record checks so the law says they must get a statutory declaration. It must be witnessed by a solicitor, magistrate, commissioner or notary.
The Local Government Ombudsman has told MK Council that: “Where it cannot determine that the witness meets the criteria, it should take urgent action to secure the correct statutory declaration for each badge holder.”
Fault emerged after a Milton Keynes dad complained that the council had changed his autistic son’s home-to-school arrangements in 2018 without consulting the family.
The boy has to travel around seven miles to and from a special school in the city. For three years he had travelled alone in a taxi after being unable to cope in shared transport.
But MK council changed the arrangement to put him in a taxi with other children. They said they had held meetings but the father claimed they had not taken place, and the council had been unable to prove it, the Ombudsman said.
It council had also failed to keep a record of a series of meetings, the LGO said in a ruling announced this week. The identity of the father, Mr X, and his son “Y” have not been revealed.
The autistic boy could not cope with being in a taxi with others, and had been injuring himself – including crying and banging his head, the Ombudsman heard.
“The council failed to carry out a satisfactory assessment of the possible impact on Y of any changes to his transport before it made the changes,” said the Ombudsman. The LGO also said the council had failed to give Mr X the chance to appeal.
Now , the council has also been ordered carry out a fresh assessment of Y’s needs and make payments to Mr X and his son.
The council has also been told to pay £475 to Y to recognise the impact on him of the change in transport between September 2018 and February 2019. They must also pay £250 to Mr X for his time and trouble pursuing the complaint and £67.50 per week from February 2019 to recognise the expense incurred in providing transport to school for Y.
“Payments will continue until there is agreement about future transport arrangements for Y or the appeal process has ended,” the Ombudsman added. Mr X will also receive £50 for every week from April 9, 2019 to “recognise the undue pressure caused by the council’s refusal to allow Y back on the school transport.”
The council was invited to comment further but no response was provided by 3pm on Friday (Jan 16).
A GLASGOW taxi driver has been suspended for a second time after turning off his meter during a Summer Sessions fare.
Dharmindar Singh, who has a history of overcharging customers, drove a couple from Central Station to Bellahouston Park last August - telling them it would cost them a fixed price of £25.
He insisted the ride would be more expensive if he let the meter run, and refused to switch it back on when they asked.
On arrival, Singh locked the doors and refused to let them out until he had been paid.
But, as reported by the Glasgow Times the couple complained to the council's enforcement officers that they had been taken advantage of because they were not from the area.
Singh wrote a letter in response, claiming some confusion had led him to take the couple to Braehead Arena before realising it was a mistake
He claimed that he had not charged the couple extra for his mistake and drove them to their desired location.
Members of the licensing committee raised concerns that there had been no mention of Braehead in the original complaint at their meeting on Thursday and that there was no way to confirm Mr Singh’s version of events.
Councillor Alex Wilson said: “The two areas sound nothing alike.
"Most taxi drivers will know about the Summer Sessions that happen in the Southside of Glasgow in August every year.
“My main concern is that the driver turned off his meter. This should never happen.”
It was then pointed out that Mr Singh had previously had his licence suspended for three months for overcrowding in his vehicle and overcharging.
Following the discussion, members agreed to suspend the licence for four months.
We told last month how a Glasgow cabbie was permanently scarred after being assaulted by two men over a £20 fare.
Savid Javed was stabbed by Gordon McPherson, 21, and repeatedly punched by Dylan Sullivan, 20, outside their house in August this year.
Mr Javed was pounced upon after requesting his fare up front in the early hours of the morning.
McPherson and Sullivan pled guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court to the assault on Mr Javed.
Uber is expected to have its licence extended in Birmingham next month amid uncertainty over the private hire firm's future in London.
Transport for London (TfL) told Uber in November it would not be granted a new licence after repeated safety failures.
The licence in Birmingham is due to expire at the end of January, but the city council says it is likely to be renewed.
The authority said it would however be monitoring the situation in London.
TfL revoked Uber's licence in London after claiming unauthorised drivers uploaded their photos to other Uber driver accounts. It meant at least 14,000 fraudulent trips were made in London in late 2018 and early 2019.
Uber has previously said the decision to revoke its London licence was "extraordinary and wrong."
The company has been allowed to continue operating in London while it appeals against the banning order. A case is expected to be heard at Westminster Magistrates' Court this summer.
Uber, which has operated in Birmingham since 2015, currently has a licence in the city until 31 January.
A final decision is yet to be made, but a council spokesman said it is "likely to be renewed."
The spokesman added that if Uber loses its appeal and the banning order comes into force in the capital then it would be a "matter of concern."
The BBC has contacted Uber for comment.
TfL said the booking app was not "fit and proper" as a licence holder despite making a number of positive changes to its operations.
Helen Chapman, director of licensing at TfL, said: "While we recognise Uber has made improvements, it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured."
Uber initially lost its licence in 2017, but was granted two extensions.
A heartbroken mum who was told she had leukaemia 29 weeks into her pregnancy has been offered free taxi rides to get her family to hospital as she undergoes chemotherapy.
Big hearted bosses at cab firm LA Taxis were saddened to read about Emma Baker’s plight as she carries her unborn child.
ChronicleLive told how medics broke the devastating news that she had leukaemia after blood tests flagged up a concern.
And now the brave 30-year-old is having to deliver her baby early so she can start her treatment.
Newcastle based LA Taxis are offering two taxi journeys a week from Emma’s County Durham home to the hospital and back.
LA Taxis founder Rob Armstrong said: “After reading the article on ChronicleLive I wanted to do something for the mother. Our management team decided to offer Emma free travel to and from the hospital and then also free travel to the RVI once the baby is born.”
Rob has had first hand experience of the difficulties surrounding premature babies after his daughter was born early.
His firm had raised thousands of pounds for Tiny Lives and after five years of fundraising and helping the charity, Rob suddenly found himself in the situation of needing its support.
The Ponteland businessman and wife Beverly’s daughter Brooke was born four weeks prematurely weighing 4lbs in 2006.
During the 14 weeks spent on the Special Care Baby Unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, the couple received help from Tiny Lives.
The Tiny Lives Trust is a charity that helps to care for premature and sick new-born babies and their families.
So when he read Emma’s story, his heart strings were tugged.
Rob added: “Given LA Taxis’ long-running connection with the Tiny Lives Trust, we were absolutely delighted to be offering the services for Emma and her family.”
It is planned that Emma will be induced next week, meaning her baby arrives early at 31 weeks into her pregnancy so she can start chemotherapy.
Little Paisley will be kept in Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Special Care Baby Unit while Emma stays in the Freeman Hospital as she receives treatment.
Emma, of Witton Gilbert, County Durham, will spend four to six weeks in the Freeman while she undergoes chemotherapy and blood transfusions.
Her boyfriend Jack Donald has been her rock as she struggles to come to terms with what is happening.
He can’t drive so he would have to get on a bus from Witton Gilbert with Emma’s three other children - Emily, 12, Lucy, 10, and seven-year-old Harry - to Newcastle city centre and then get on another bus to the Freeman, then back to the RVI to see tiny Paisley, before returning home.
“This is fantastic for us,” said Emma. “You don’t even think people care and this happens. The generosity of some people is amazing.
"We are over the moon that Jack and the kids can get a taxi to the hospital when I am receiving my treatment. A bus is a three hour round trip but this is a quick taxi ride away. We are so grateful.”
Jack initially set up a GoFundMe page with a £1,000 target to raise enough money to buy Emma a wig and gather cash for bus fares so the family can make regular visits. It has now reached £800 and rising.
Jack, 24, a window engineer, said: “This is a massive help to us. Just getting the kids and I to hospital is brilliant.
"To offer free taxi rides to us proves there are some nice people out there. It makes it easier for us to get to the hospital to see Emma and Paisley.
"Although it doesn’t take away all of the stress, it certainly makes it better. It means an all round three hour bus journey is halved and it means the kids get to spend more time with Emma.”
Anyone who wants to donate can visit their GoFundMe page here.
Uber is expected to have its licence extended in Birmingham next month amid uncertainty over the private hire firm's future in LondonUber is expected to have its licence extended in Birmingham next month amid uncertainty