Taxi driver sentenced for attempting to pervert course of justice

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A taxi driver has received a suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice by falsely claiming not to have committed two speeding offences.

Horatiu Balea, 33, of Martyrs Avenue, Langley Green, was clocked by speed cameras as he drove his Crawley Borough Council licensed taxi in Gatwick Road on June 26 2012 and then again in Manor Royal on August 24.

On both occasions he laid the blame on other drivers, one in Spain and one in Romania. But images from the speed cameras showed Balea had been driving.

He was arrested on February 28 and charged with two counts of committing an act with intent to pervert the course of justice.

After appearing at Crawley Magistrates Court on March 15, he was sent for trial at Lewes Crown Court on April 14, where he pleaded guilty to both offences.

On Tuesday (May 14), Balea was sentenced to two six-month prison sentences to run concurrently, suspended for two years, disqualified from driving for three months, ordered to do 200 hours’ unpaid work and pay £400 costs.

Inspector Chris Collins from Sussex Police’s Central Ticket and Summons Unit, said: “Balea’s ridiculous attempt to evade speeding fines with lies and deceit have ultimately led to a greater punishment.

“A licensed and designated taxi or private hire vehicle may only be driven by a permitted driver and his false claims that other people were driving at the time of the speeding offences just served to raise suspicion against him.”

Cllr Ken Trussell, Crawley Borough Council Cabinet member for Environmental Services, said: “Passengers put their trust in licensed taxi drivers to get them from A to B safely and legally; it’s this that makes it vital they adhere to the rules.

“We want licensed cab drivers to know that we take all offences very seriously and urge them to think before risking their livelihood.

“We are currently reviewing Mr Balea’s taxi licence and a decision on whether to revoke it will be made in the coming weeks.”