Illegal bus operator punched DVSA Traffic Examiner

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An illegal minibus operator who took unsuspecting holiday makers to the airport has pleaded guilty to an assault on a safety official.

Michael Whitty admitted at Liverpool Magistrates Court on 27 August that he punched a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) Traffic Examiner to the floor when he heard the vehicle owned by his company would be impounded for not having a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operator’s licence.

The court heard how on 11 July a minibus operated by Whitty’s company was checked on its way to the airport. As well as not having an operator’s licence, the driver was found not to have the correct driving licence. The company had already had another vehicle impounded for the same offence in June, which was also found to have a fuel leak, a bald tyre and a safety door jammed shut.

When 46-year-old Whitty, heard about the latest encounter with the DVSA he came to the site of the check immediately. After shouting at him, he punched the Traffic Examiner in the jaw. The examiner fell to the floor and his glasses came off. The police were called and a warrant for Whitty’s arrest was made after he fled the scene.

A judge sentenced Whitty to a 12 month community order involving 120 hours unpaid work as well as 10 rehabilitation days. He was ordered to pay £100 to the victim, a £90 victim surcharge and £85 costs.

DVSA Director of Enforcement, Marian Kitson, said: “DVSA’s priority is to protect everyone from unsafe drivers and vehicles. This sends a strong message that the police and courts will back our staff when it’s found that they’ve been intimidated or abused while carrying out lawful road safety checks.

“They do this with the utmost professionalism, in often difficult circumstances and I have the greatest of respect for them because of that.”

At a Public Inquiry held separately on August 21, the Traffic Commissioner told Whitty that the minibuses would not be returned to him and will be sold or crushed. The Traffic Commissioner had previously refused to grant the company an operator’s licence, in part due to them operating illegally prior to the licence application.

The company was not working with Liverpool Airport.