THE owner of a Carmarthen taxi firm has been prosecuted for picking up fare-paying passengers without a licence and in an unlicensed vehicle.
Mark Edward John, proprietor of Guv’s Taxis, will pay over £2700 in fines and costs and has picked up eight penalty points, after being caught operating illegally by Carmarthenshire County Council licensing officers.
John, of Mount Pleasant in Llangunnor, had previously held a Hackney Carriage and Private Driver licence, but this expired in 2015.
An application to renew the licence was rejected by the council’s Licensing Committee in October 2017, when members decided he was not ‘fit and proper’.
He received a warning from the council in August 2018, following allegations he was using his own private unlicensed vehicle to carry fare paying passengers.
However, just weeks later, he picked up a passenger from the A&E unit at Glangwili Hospital, taking her to her home address in Ammanford.
The woman had found his number on a noticeboard outside the hospital.
She provided evidence that she had called the number advertised for Guv’s Taxis, and officers were able to recover CCTV of his car when it stopped for her to access a cash machine in Cross Hands.
In another incident, John picked up a male passenger from Morrison’s in Carmarthen, taking him home to Pontyberem – a journey the complainant said he had done several times, each time being carried in John’s unlicensed vehicle, and paying him a fare.
In October, 2018, John was interviewed under caution by licensing officers where he admitted being the owner and keeper of an unlicensed silver Mercedes, but denied he had carried fare paying passengers.
He appeared at Llanelli Magistrates Court on April 29, 2019, where he pleaded not guilty to operating an unlicensed vehicle, driving an unlicensed vehicle, and driving without insurance.
John, and his firm Guv’s Taxi’s, were found guilty of all offences and handed fines and costs totalling £2748.93, with eight penalty points added to his driving licence.
Cllr Philip Hughes, Executive Board Member for enforcement, said: “When a member of the public pays for a taxi journey they are doing it with the faith that their driver is properly licensed and insured. To take advantage of that trust, and break the law despite having received a warning, is not acceptable and therefore I feel justice has been done.”