Sex-assault cabbie was granted licence despite convictions

A SCARBOROUGH private hire driver who sexually assaulted two female passengers was granted a cab licence despite having a string of violent convictions against his name.

Michael Fletcher, 40, of Trafalgar Square, was given a six month jail sentence at York Crown Court on Thursday, after he made inappropriate comments to two women before touching them and attempting to kiss them on separate occasions in April last year.

His behaviour was branded as an abuse of his position of trust and “unacceptable” by Judge Michael Mettyear.

The Evening News can reveal that Fletcher was granted a minicab licence by Scarborough Council in 2009, just three years after he was given a suspended jail sentence for battery.

Fletcher was also convicted of the offence in 2005 and 2003, while he had a conviction for assault occasioning actual bodily harm dating back to 2004.

The council was fully aware of Fletcher’s criminal history when its licensing sub-committee decided to grant his licence, having completed a criminal records bureau check on him.

Carolyn Conlon, owner of Bee-Line Radio Cars, the Scarborough-based company which employed Fletcher when he carried out the offences, said she was shocked to learn that he had been granted the licence in light of his convictions.

She said: “We did not know anything about his record. If we did he wouldn’t have been working for us, full stop.

“When someone appears with the licence and they have had the Criminal Records Bureau check you believe that they will be alright to work.”

Following his arrest, Fletcher was immediately dismissed from his position at Bee-Line Radio Cars.

In the council’s own guidelines, it is stated: “As drivers maintain close contact with the public, a firm line will be taken with applicants who have convictions for offences involving violence.”

Fletcher, who it was claimed had suffered mental difficulties following a road accident in 2002, applied to the council for a licence in 2007, having previously worked as a cab driver.

The application was turned down by council officers, as was an appeal against the decision to the council’s licensing appeals panel later that year.

He re-applied for the licence in July 2009, and was once again refused by council officers.

However the case was referred to the council’s licensing sub-committee, who went against the officer’s decision and decided to allow Fletcher the minicab licence.

Less than a year later, he carried out the sexual assaults that resulted in the jail term.

Following his arrest on suspicion of sexual assault, Fletcher’s licence was immediately suspended by Scarborough Council.

Brian Watson, chairman of the council’s licensing committee, told the Evening News that he did not recall the hearing when Fletcher was granted the licence and as a result, did not wish to comment.

Fletcher, who pleaded guilty to the two charges of sexual assault, walked free from court on Thursday due to time he had spent on remand.