Council defends granting killer driver David Baillie a hackney carriage licence

Despite having a string of motoring convictions, David Baillie was granted a hackney carriage licence by Sunderland City Council

David Baillie leaving Newcastle Crown Court
David Baillie leaving Newcastle Crown Court

A council has defended its decision to grant a driver who killed a teenage girl in a raid rage incident a licence to drive a taxi.

David Baillie - who has a string of serious motoring convictions - is starting a seven-year jail term after killing 17-year-old student Sarah Jane Burke.

Baillie was involved in a road rage incident with another driver when he made to overtake and his Volvo S60 ploughed into the teen.

The talented student was making her way home from college in Sunderland where she was studying art and design.

Baillie’s convictions include two counts of dangerous driving, 10 for theft of a motor vehicle, five for driving with no insurance and one for driving while disqualified.

But Sunderland City Council said its licensing committee granted Baillie a hackney carriage licence because his last conviction was 14 years ago.

Sarah’s father Stephen spoke out after Baillie was convicted for causing death by dangerous and said there needed for greater deterrents put in place to deal with the problem of dangerous drivers.

Mr Burke said: “How could he have been on the road? How did he get a licence as a taxi driver? 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.

“As a family we’ve said he will get back on the roads, it’s in his character. We feel he will be a danger again once he gets back on the roads.”

A council spokesman 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’s guidelines are based on 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.”

Philip Goose, senior community engagement officer at road safety charity Brake, said Baillie should serve his full sentence.

He 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. So-called ‘exceptional hardship’ pleas should also be dealt with much less leniently. Reckless drivers have shown that they are a risk to others road users as well as themselves and they should face the full force of the law.”

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