Sunderland Council granted taxi licence to killer driver – despite knowing of his criminal record

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KILLER driver David Baillie was granted a taxi licence despite a criminal records check revealing his horrific catalogue of motoring convictions.

Baillie is this week beginning a seven-year jail sentence after knocking down and killing Sunderland teenager Sarah Burke.

Yet the 40-year-old was allowed to apply and receive a taxi driver’s licence from Sunderland City Council despite having served prison sentences in the past for his bad driving and having a shocking record for motoring offences.

The Echo understands a CRB check did reveal Baillie’s driving record to council bosses.

But the council today defended its decision to grant the licence, saying they were only following Department for Transport (DfT) guidelines which suggest applicants be “free of driving or motoring convictions for a period of between one to three years.”

All Baillie’s convictions pre-date 2000.

Sarah, 17, died five days after she was hit by rage-fuelled Baillie as she crossed Ormonde Street in Sunderland on her way home from college last September.

It was later revealed Baillie had 12 convictions for theft and attempted theft of vehicles, six for taking without consent, eight for driving while disqualified and has been banned from the road nine times. The grieving family have been working with road safety charity Brake to call for tougher sentences to try to stop more families going through what they are as a result of more road deaths.

Mr Burke said he could not understand how Baillie, who was off duty from his taxi job when he killed Sarah, was allowed to drive when he has such a shocking record.

A spokesman for Sunderland City Council said: “An application for a Hackney Carriage driver’s licence was considered and approved by members of the city council’s Regulatory Committee on 2 September, 2013.

“The council followed all due process in this application, including the checking of criminal records.

“In addition, the council followed Department for Transport advice that expects applicants to be free of driving or motoring convictions for a period of between one to three years.

“His last reported conviction was 2000.

“On notification of his arrest, his licence was suspended.”

Sarah, a student who was excelling in her art and design course at Sunderland College, suffered multiple fractures and brain injury when she was hit by Baillie’s Volvo.

The dad-of-three had been “consumed by determination to overtake at all costs” as he dangerously drove into the wrong side of the road to get past a Vauxhall Corsa in front of him.

He had admitted causing Sarah’s death by careless driving but denied his behaviour was dangerous.

Jurors at Newcastle Crown Court this week took just over an hour to find Baillie, of Magdelene Place, Sunderland, guilty of causing her death by dangerous driving.

Philip Goose, senior community engagement officer at Brake, the road safety charity, said: “This is a shocking case, but one that we hear of far too often – every day there are five deaths and 63 serious injuries on UK roads.

“Driving is the most dangerous thing that we do on a daily basis and deserves our full attention.

“Cases like this demonstrate the potential for pedestrians to be killed or seriously injured when drivers are not fully focussed.

“We are calling for tougher penalties for driving offences, and for drivers who receive 12 points to be banned.”