A BOGUS taxi driver who knocked down and killed a pensioner as he crossed a road in Sunderland has been jailed.
Investigations after the death of the 75-year-old pedestrian showed James Robson, 61, had been posing as a cabbie for more than six years.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 61-year-old driver had forged his cabbies’ badge and convinced his bosses and members of the public he was fully licensed.
The fraudster, who had previously worked as a legitimate taxi driver for 14 years, had doctored old documents to make them appear up to date, and had not taken an eye test since 2003.
Mr Recorder Haslam had adjourned the case to await the results of an eye test Robson had taken on November 10, after the tragedy on the night of January 5, last year
It revealed Robson does not suffer from poor sight, and that this had therefore not contributed to the crash.
Ian Hudson, defending, said: “He is a fit and healthy man. The document knocks on the head any sinister motive. The motive behind this was purely financial. This was not fraudulent from the outset and from 1994-2008 he held a valid badge.
“We had the tragic unfortunate accident and with respect to the family of the victim, the crown were happy with the outcome that he was not to blame.
“He is fit and can do unpaid work and volunteer work.”
Mr Recorder Haslam sentenced Robson to six months imprisonment for three counts of fraud, two counts of forgery and one count of using a false instrument.
Robson, of Hazel Dene Way, Seaham, admitted all of the charges against him, which related to his documentation and obtaining insurance.
The judge said: “Previous to this you were a man of good character.
“The allegations of fraud were over a long period of time and only came to the notice of the court or police when, in January last year, you were involved in a tragic road traffic accident, when you hit and killed a 75-year-old pedestrian.
“I make it clear that I am not sentencing you for the road traffic accident.
“The sentence is just for the fraud cases and the crown acknowledged that it was not possible to blame you for the death of the pedestrian, as he was wearing dark clothing in a dimly-lit street and you were driving at a reasonable speed.
“Investigations after the tragedy revealed documentation was forged and for years you had obtained insurance on that false basis.
“You had not been subjected to the physical tests that you should have been tested on, that all valid drivers are ordered to undertake.
“You renewed your insurance in 2007 using a false taxi badge when you were not a licensed driver at all.
“I accept this was not fraudulent behaviour from the outset and that the insurance company did not make a loss.
“But, it does seem to me that this was a systematic and persistent fraudulent behaviour sustained over a long period of time, and the court cannot tolerate this.”