Sunderland man who did a runner from taxi over £24 fare ends up with £215 bill

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A CABBIE has said offenders who run from taxis without paying must be brought to justice, after he fell victim to a drunken punter who did just that.

Taxi driver Muhammad Khan gave three people a lift to Sunderland in the early hours of February 21 – but they failed to hand over the £24 they owed.

These offenders need to be brought to justice.

Taxi driver Muhammad Khan

Mr Khan told a court that offenders like Michael Clews, 25, must be stopped or they will continue to make his life a misery.

Prosecutor Glenda Beck, told Sunderland Magistrates’ Court how Mr Khan had picked up a woman and two men in Anderson Street, South Shields, at 2.15am.

The trio got into a taxi and asked to be taken to Clews’ address at Thompson Road, Southwick, Sunderland.

Mr Khan was asked to stop at Wearmouth Service Station, where one of the men got out to buy alcohol. They arrived at their destination at 2.45am, refusing to pay.

“Police spoke to Mr Khan, who handed them CCTV footage from inside the taxi,” Ms Beck said.

“There was audio on the footage and one male was heard being referred to as Michael. He had a distinctive tattoo on his neck.

“Checks on the police revealed him to be Michael Clews of Thompson Road.”

Mr Khan said in a statement read out in court: “These offenders need to be brought to justice. This is my living and if they are not stopped they just keep reoffending.”

The court heard Clews told police he was “extremely drunk” when he got into the taxi, saying: “I was stupid. I had the money. I’m sorry. I’m just stupid. I know it’s his living and know you have to pay at the end. I didn’t.”

He admitted making off without payment.

Chris Wilson, defending, said: “Unfortunately, drink played a part when he made the erroneous decision to get out of the taxi without paying. He is genuinely remorseful.

“He accepts there is little he can do to make amends, but he can pay compensation.”

Clews was fined £110, with £85 costs and a £20 surcharge.

He was told to pay £24 in compensation to Mr Khan.