Drink-driving cabbie led off-duty officer on chase

Andrew McCabe
Andrew McCabe

A drink-driving cabbie sped down the wrong side of the road and overtook on a blind bend as he tried to shake off his pursuers - an off-duty police officer and his family.

Andrew McCabe, 24, was driving a liveried taxi near Scarborough when he was spotted driving erratically by the officer, whose wife was at the wheel of the family car and their kids in the back.

They followed McCabe after his Skoda Octavia crossed a junction between the B1416 and A171 in an “unusually slow” manner, York Crown Court heard.

He then drove at a paltry 25mph in a 60mph zone, said prosecutor Andrew Stranex.

The off-duty officer’s wife overtook the cab only for McCabe to tailgate her, flashing his lights as he did so.

McCabe, who had a female passenger in the taxi, then overtook the family car by “swerving violently” into the opposite carriageway, whereupon the off-duty officer told his wife to overtake the cab in the hope that he could get a look inside the vehicle.

McCabe - who was working for a taxi firm in Middlesbrough but was not on call at the time - simply stepped on the gas, repeatedly swerved onto the wrong side of the road and overtaking on a blind bend at “excessive speed”, said Mr Stranex.

“The car struck a kerb on at least six occasions,” added the barrister. “Vehicles driving in the opposite direction had to take evasive actions.”

The off-duty officer feared a catastrophe and dialled 999. Such was his fear of a fatality that at one stage he even contemplated trying to ram the taxi off the road, but decided against it because his wife and kids were in the car.

McCabe eventually pulled into a service station, followed by the officer and his family. The officer was about to get out of his car to speak to McCabe, but the crazed cabbie sped off, doing wheel spins and hitting a kerb as he left the garage.

The officer and his wife, who had been tailing the taxi driver for over 20 minutes, could no longer keep up the chase, but a patrol officer eventually spotted McCabe’s car near Whitby.

The officer said it appeared that the cab’s clutch and brakes had burnt out and one of its tyres was deflated, probably a blow-out from hitting a kerb.

McCabe’s was arrested and taken into custody, where a breath test revealed he was almost twice the legal drink-drive limit.

He was charged with dangerous driving and drink-driving but made no comment in police interview. He later admitted drink-driving and entered a belated guilty plea to dangerous driving.

McCabe, of Richmond Court, Middlesbrough, appeared for sentence on Wednesday when his barrister Eric Watson said the troubled taxi driver had suffered from a serious kidney problem all his life and had turned to booze and drugs as a crutch for his problems.

Mr Watson said McCabe had since turned his life around but his taxi-driving days were numbered due to his recklessness on the afternoon of October 16 last year.

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC described the off-duty officer’s account of events as “chilling” and told McCabe: “It’s purely a matter of good fortune that you didn’t hit and injure someone.”

However, he said he could “just” suspend the inevitable prison sentence because McCabe had suffered from a lifelong kidney disease and committed the offences at a time when he was using alcohol as a coping mechanism.

McCabe’s 16-month jail sentence was suspended for two years. He was also ordered to carry out 150 hours’ unpaid work and given a four-year driving ban.