Caught on camera: £5 taxi fare dodge lands Sunderland man in court

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Doing a runner to avoid a £5 taxi fare landed Sunderland man David Harrison with a court appearance – and a £100 bill.

Twenty-two-year-old Harrison, of Goschen Street, Southwick, admitted making off without payment when he appeared before Sunderland Magistrates’ Court.

You committed a criminal offence – the result is the incident will cost you a lot more than if you had paid the proper fare.

District Judge Roger Elsey

Paul Anderson, prosecuting, said Harrison had taken a taxi from the city centre to Southwick on April 7 and got out, telling the driver he would be back in two minutes.

“Of course, he never returned,” said Mr Anderson.

Harrison had been arrested and identified from CCTV.

He told police he could not remember what had happened, but said: ‘I don’t think that it’s me on the CCTV.’

“He said he could not remember what he was doing, and had little recollection of what was going on,” said Mr Anderson.

“It seems he now says he is the person who made this taxi ride.”

Defence solicitor Tom Morgan, mitigating for Harrison, said there was no doubt he had been in the taxi.

“The defendant and I have not had the opportunity to view the CCTV together,” he said.

“I have seen it and I am thoroughly confident it is Mr Harrison pictured in that image.”

The court heard Harrison had a substantial criminal record, but was making serious efforts to go straight.

Mr Morgan added: “Previously heavily convicted, he is making determined efforts to lead a law-abiding life.

“At the time of this offence, he tells me, he was severely intoxicated. At the time, he was drinking heavily.”

District Judge Roger Elsey told Harrison: “You committed a criminal offence – the result is the incident will cost you a lot more than if you had paid the proper fare.

“I have to impose a fine of £55, compensation of £35, costs of £20 and a victim surcharge of £20 – that is a total of £100.”