Taxi driver who left girl fighting for her life begins battle to get licence back

LICENCE BID ... taxi driver Amir Azad leaving South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.
LICENCE BID ... taxi driver Amir Azad leaving South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

A TAXI driver yesterday began an appeal to get his operator’s licence back after he left a four-year-old girl disabled in a car crash.

Amir Azad caused a five-car pile-up when he smashed into the back of a Volkswagen Polo, which was stopped at traffic lights on the A194 Leam Lane, near the Lindisfarne Roundabout, in Jarrow, in March.

The car was owned by Lisa Orrock and Chris Bootes, whose daughter, Jessica Bootes, was left with the left side of her skull missing, paralysis down the right side of her body and a loss of speech after the crash, as her face had smashed into the front passenger seat.

She was taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, and spent 11 days in an induced coma.

Azad, of Taylor Street, South Shields, was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving after the crash, but was eventually charged with driving without due care and attention.

The 35-year-old admitted the charge at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court and was given a £250 fine and six penalty points on his licence.

In June, South Tyneside Council revoked Azad’s taxi licence.

Yesterday, he arrived at and left court, hiding his face behind an umbrella, as he began his appeal against the decision.

Geoffrey Forrester, for Azad, asked that the council’s solicitor, Debbie Lloyd, provide “details of all action taken against all existing taxi drivers for careless driving convictions within the last three years”.

Mr Forrester asked for the information to be provided to him within seven days.

A date was then set for the hearing, which will go ahead at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on October 14.

The family, from Centenary Avenue, Harton, South Shields, had been going to McDonald’s restaurant when the collision happened at about 6.30pm on March 4.

At Azad’s criminal court case in June, it was said that others caught up in the crash offered assistance to Jessica, but the court heard that, when approached by Jessica’s parents, Azad told them “calm down, accidents happen” before asking if they had insurance.

In a victim statement read out in court, Mr Bootes said: “What happened will stay with me forever. It has hit me so hard. It eats away at me. I try to get my head around what happened.

“Should we have gone a different route or left sooner?

“We are the victims – we had not done anything wrong.

“The lack of remorse from the driver stays with me. I will never forgive this man.

“Jessica has to start her life all over again while he goes on living his.”

Ms Orrock’s victim statement continued: “Standing there, and not being able to help Jessica was horrific and will stay with me forever.

“How a split second can change a family’s lives – it baffles me. Our lives changed but not half as much as it has for our little girl. How do you explain that to her?”

Mr Forrester, defending, said Azad has been driving for 17 years and was remorseful.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki