LAST August, council leader Paul Watson met Stephen and Theresa Burke, the parents of tragic 17-year-old Sarah Jane, who was mowed down by cabbie David Baillie, pictured.
Despite his appalling driving record, the council said it was following Government guidance when it granted Baillie – who was off duty when he hit Sarah – a Hackney licence, because all of his convictions were committed before 2000.
After their meeting, Coun Watson said that he wanted to support the Burkes in their efforts to see something positive come from the tragedy and that he would ask the licensing team to review and compare licensing guidelines with other local authorities across the country.
“I want to ensure Sunderland’s are the most stringent and we are leading the way in making our city safe for its people,” he said.
Baillie, 40, already had eight previous convictions for driving whilst disqualified and had been banned from the roads nine times when the council decided he was responsible enough to take public safety in his hands. Just days later, Sarah, a student from Barnes, was dead.
Baillie, of Magdalene Place, Sunderland, had been overtaking another car on the wrong side of the road in September 2013 when he struck art student Sarah Jane, who was a high achiever in her studies and hoped to follow a career in fashion journalism.
He was found guilty of death by careless driving in June after a trial at Newcastle Crown Court and was jailed for seven years last July.
Speaking at the time of his conviction, Mr Burke said: “How could he have been on the road? “His barrister said people make mistakes, but how many mistakes can you make?
“He has been in prison before, banned before and taken the re-test before.”