A BURLY taxi driver who lost the plot when a passenger was sick in the back of his cab and refused to pay to have the vehicle cleaned walked free from court yesterday.
The decision to grant Alan McClure an absolute discharge means he will not have a criminal record, despite admitting an assault and robbery charge.
McClure had his taxi licence suspended after taking the law into his own hands, going after the passenger who had been sick, punching and kicking him and taking £30 from his pocket.
The accused had tried to urge police in Paisley to intervene after Albert McCondochie threw up in the back of the taxi on March 14 and flatly refused to pay to have an interior valet service carried out.
Fuming, McClure asked him to stump up to have the work done and, when drunken McCondochie took to his heels and ran away at Mill Street police station, he later went to the address he had been given when the hire began, grabbed hold of him, assaulted him and helped himself to £30.
McClure was charged with assault and robbery and, when he appeared shamefaced in the dock at Paisley Sheriff Court, he admitted seizing Mr McCondochie by the body, causing him to fall to the ground, dragging him along, repeatedly punching and kicking him and robbing him of the money.
The incident happened outside Arkleston Court, Paisley.
The court was told that McClure had picked up his drunken passenger at 2am.
Shortly afterwards, Mr McCondachie was sick in the back of the cab and McClure demanded money to pay to have the mess cleaned up.
Mr McCondachie refused, claiming it had been “an accident”, so he was driven to the police station as the accused was intent on having the issue resolved.
Defence agent John Gardner said the episode has cost his client dearly as he had lost his licence as a result of what happened and was no longer able to work as a taxi driver.
He added that the incident had happened in the middle of McClure’s shift and, due to the mess the taxi was in, he knew he would not be able to continue to work that night.
McClure followed recognised procedure by taking his drunken passenger to the police station and escorting him to the front counter to have the issue properly addressed.
It was stated that Mr McCondochie had taken the money out and waved it at him but refused to hand it over and then walked away.
McClure, 44, asked the police officer on duty what she was going to do about it and she said nothing could be done.
Mr Gardner told the court: “He left the building and spoke to two other police officers in the street, who also said they could not be of assistance.
“The red mist descended and he went to the address he had to track down the other man and confront him once again.
“He felt exceedingly frustrated as he had lost the potential income that would have come from the remainder of the shift and seemed to feel that nobody was able to help him, despite following the guidelines for situations such as this.
“This man has never been in court before. He was an honest, hard-working individual of previous good character and he hopes to put this behind him and find a new position once this matter has been dealt with.”
Sheriff Susan Sinclair went off the bench to consider a large number of references produced in support of McClure and his good character.
After studying them all and considering submissions made on his behalf, she granted the accused an absolute discharge.
She told McClure: “I do not condone what you did at all but accept that it was a moment of madness.
“You had never been in trouble before that night and your actions have cost your family considerably.
“Having considered the large number of references presented, what has been said on your behalf and all the background, in all of the extraordinary circumstances of this case, I am going to do something unusual and grant you an absolute discharge.”
McClure, of Barrhill Road, Erskine, gave a huge sigh of relief and shook his lawyer’s hand enthusiastically, making no comment as he left the court.