24th Oct, 2020

'Aggressive' Rugby taxi driver fails in bid to reinstate licence

Correspondent 14th Dec, 2016

A “COMBATIVE and vindictive” taxi driver has lost his bid to have his licence reinstated after it was revoked by Rugby Borough Council.

Brian McKinstry verbally abused a motorist, was rude to passengers and threatened a fellow taxi driver.

And a council officer travelling in his cab was reduced to tears after McKinstry took his hands off the steering wheel and shouted angrily after nearly colliding with a van at a roundabout.

The 45-year-old, of Regent Place, had his dual Hackney Carriage and private hire vehicle licence revoked by the council in November 2015 after receiving complaints from the public and fellow taxi drivers.

The council concluded McKinstry was not a ‘fit and proper’ person to drive a taxi – echoed by magistrates on appeal in June this year.

But after he lodged a further appeal at crown court and was allowed to carry on driving his cab, the council continued to receive complaints about him.

The court heard how, in December 2014, a driver alleged McKinstry verbally abused him after failing to allow his cab to pull out into traffic.

McKinstry initially denied using foul and abusive language, but under cross-examination, while insisting the motorist had started the exchange, admitted he “threw abuse” back.

A disabled mother complained about McKinstry in February 2015 after she and her son were passengers in his cab.

When asked by the mother whether he was allowed to run the meter while she loaded shopping into the cab, McKinstry was accused of being arrogant, rude and disrespectful – and he admitted to a council licensing officer he “might have been a bit rude”.

In August 2015 McKinstry was caught on CCTV having a confrontation with a cab driver at the taxi rank in North Street.

McKinstry was seen to approach the driver’s car and put his head through the open window in a threatening manner.

​Following the decision to revoke his licence, but still driving his cab pending appeal, McKinstry regularly took a council officer to and from work.

On a journey home from work last January, the officer noticed a strong smell of faeces in McKinstry’s cab. His driving was also erratic, cutting across lanes at roundabouts.

Once home, the officer sent an email to the taxi company McKinstry worked for to report the smell.

Later in January, after picking up the officer to take her to work, McKinsey quizzed her about the email.

Giving evidence to the court, the officer said McKinstry was aggressive in his tone of voice, angrily waving his hand at her during the conversation.

McKinstry then turned the cab’s radio on at high volume and, when asked to turn it down, became aggressive before turning the radio off.

During the journey, McKinstry asked her for directions despite having taken the officer to work several times.

At a roundabout, he pulled into the wrong lane and nearly collided with a van.

The officer told the court McKinstry waved his hands in the air “in rage” following the near miss, leaving her “too petrified to speak.”

On arrival at work, the officer broke down in tears.

The court also heard McKinstry picked up a passenger from Cineworld at the Junction One Retail Park in November.

The passenger said McKinstry seemed to be asleep when she got into the cab, and during the journey the cab twice drifted on to the wrong side of the road, on one occasion hitting the kerb.

McKinstry admitted he “may have been a bit tired” and “may have clipped a kerb.”

Recorder Michael Burrows QC said he accepted a number of references in support of McKinstry.

But dismissing his appeal, Recorder Burrows described McKinstry as “temperamentally unsuited to work driving members of the public.”

He added McKinstry, when challenged, “often was awkward, combative, belligerent and even aggressive.”

The judge ordered McKinstry to pay costs of £1,333.

After the hearing, Coun Kathryn Lawrence, chair of the council’s licensing and safety committee, said: “Taxi drivers hold a position of trust and have a duty of care, and when drivers fail in this duty we have no hesitation in revoking their licence.

“I am pleased a crown court judge agreed with our reasons for revoking Mr McKinstry’s licence, and the case has now been drawn to a close.”

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