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Saturday, 22 November 2014

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Taxi driver's £1,000 bill after losing mobile phone appeal

A taxi driver has been left with a £1,000 bill after challenging a decision to have his licence suspended for driving while on his mobile phone.

Jason Anthony Barnes, 43, of Kirkbampton, near Carlisle, was seen by a member of the public on November 25 last year, driving through Carlisle city centre while on his phone.

The man complained to Carlisle City Council, telling them Mr Barnes had turned right from Harrington Street into Victoria Place and had failed to see him while he was turning opposite.

He claimed the two vehicles would have collided had he not taken evasive action and that Mr Barnes had not seen him because he was on the phone at the time.

It was alleged that Mr Barnes, who has held a taxi licence since 2002, then continued to use his mobile phone while driving along Georgian Way, Hardwicke Circus and onto Castle Way.

Initially he denied being in the areas stated at the time of the incident, but after the city council licensing officer was informed by the owner of the taxi company that Mr Barnes had been in the area, he recalled doing a drop off at Trinity School.

The taxi driver had his licence suspended at a council regulatory panel meeting on February 12, a decision Mr Barnes appealed.

At the meeting the complainant told the panel he had seen Mr Barnes close up and was holding a mobile phone to his left ear.

He then told the panel he would “not have been able to live with himself” if he had not reported what he had seen.

Mr Barnes’ legal representative said that he was not on his mobile phone but rubbing his head due to suffering a brain injury which left him with two holes in the left side of his head.

His appeal at North Cumbria Magistrate’s Court on May 14 was dismissed and a further appeal at Carlisle Crown Court last Thursday was also dismissed by a judge.

It means the decision to suspend his license for two months was upheld and he will also have to pay the £1,000 in costs to the city council.

Mr Barnes will have to sit and pass a Driving Standards Agency taxi driving test within 13 weeks, and must submit a report from a neurologist consultant to confirm he is fit to drive. The licensing panel also heard about a previous complaint of a similar nature but they had not followed up because the complainant had not taken the report any further.

In the report of the meeting, the panel said “they accepted fully the evidence given by the witness, that Mr Barnes was using his mobile phone whilst driving, and did not find Mr Barnes a credible witness”.

The panel “felt the matter was serious and Mr Barnes had a history of driving offences”.

Mr Barnes was unavailable for comment.

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