A disgraced former Southam councillor has been order to pay out almost £32,000 after being convicted of running private hire taxis without a licence.
David Wise (pictured right), who resigned his seat on Stratford District Council following his conviction, had been prosecuted by the council as the local taxi licensing authority.
Wise, aged 52, of Priors Meadow, Southam, had been convicted by Nuneaton magistrates last year of a total of ten offences relating to his Southam-based private hire business Premier Cars.
And at Coventry Crown Court the former Independent councillor for Southam was fined a total of £9,500 and banned from driving for nine months.
Recorder Bernard Thorogood also ordered him to pay the council’s costs totalling £5,438.08 after rejecting a submission by Wise’s solicitor Nicholas Aldridge that £600 costs was ‘a fair figure.’
Wise was given six months to pay the fines and costs, and Recorder Thorogood ordered that he should serve six months in prison in default of payment.
Prosecutor Annabel Graham-Paul said it was agreed that Wise’s benefit from his unlicensed activities had been £17,000 and that he had sufficient realisable assets to cover that amount, which she asked to be paid ‘forthwith.’
So, in addition to the fines and costs, the judge ordered £17,000 to be confiscated from Wise under the Proceeds of Crime Act, giving him 56 days to pay the full amount or face eight months imprisonment.
Stratford District Council had launched an investigation into Wise’s business, which he ran from his home, after receiving a complaint about his activities.
The court heard that in 2013 Wise had operated Vauxhall Insignia and Citroen C3 cars as private hire vehicles within Stratford District without a licence. He was also operating the private hire vehicles when the drivers, Gary Price, Simon Jones and his own mother Joyce Wise, did not have a current taxi driver’s licence, and permitting Mrs Wise and Mr Jones to use cars which were uninsured.
In addition Wise, who had been a Conservative councillor before becoming an Independent, had failed to keep proper records while he was a person to whom a private hire operator’s licence had been granted.
Following a hearing in April last year the magistrates had committed his case to the Crown Court to enable a Proceeds of Crime Act order, which cannot be done by magistrates, to be made.
Following Wise’s first appearance at Warwick Crown Court in May there was a lengthy adjournment for detailed investigations to be carried out into his finances.
And because the offences themselves could only be dealt with by financial penalties, Wise could not be sentenced until the Proceeds of Crime Act aspect was also ready to be dealt with.