It seems that Carlisle taxi driver Matthew Champney doesn't have the best of luck. He had
his licence suspended for one week in 1998 after being convicted of three motoring offences in five years. Then in May his hackney licence was revoked permanently after he was convicted of overloading his cab by carrying two extra passengers in the boot. Champney later told council officers that the two men were drunk. Helped by two other friends, he had put them in the boot as a “light-hearted prank”, intending to drive over speed humps. The chairperson of the regulatory panel didn't see the funny side and said the men in the boot could have vomited and choked to death.
But now he has hit the headlines again after a man was jailed for five years for threatening him with an imitation gun and blackmail.
David Wardle pulled a gun on Mr Champney in Workington and held it to his cheek.
The 36-year-old, of Station Road, admitted possessing an imitation gun while committing a crime and was jailed at Carlisle Crown Court.
In sentencing, the judge said the taxi driver must have been "scared out of his wits" during the incident on 17 July.
Then he pleaded guilty to blackmailing Mr Champney by demanding that he drove off without being given the £70 he was owed, and to possessing an imitation gun while committing a crime and breaching the terms of an Anti-Social Behaviour
During the trial Mr Champney told the jury he picked up Wardle, another man and two women from the Sportsman pub in
Carlisle, knowing his office had already told them the trip would cost £70.
He said Wardle, who was sitting in the front, behaved strangely on the 35-mile journey, and played a CD so loudly on the car stereo that he thought the speakers would fail. Then Wardle put together a collapsible walking stick, removed its rubber bung and threatened to poke his eye out with the exposed metal spike.
“I was so scared I nearly pulled into a lay-by and got out of the car,” he said.
When they arrived outside his first floor flat, Mr Champney said, Wardle said he would go into the house to get the money.
But instead an older relative, Dale Wardle, who lived in the downstairs flat, came out to tell him he would only get paid if he returned for the money next day.
After Mr Champney said that was not good enough, David Wardle returned, leaned through the open car window and pointed the gun at him. “He held the pistol to my right cheek and said ‘This is your proof you are not getting paid’,” the taxi driver said. Wow this guy leads an eventful life doesn't he? or it like this all the time in the wild north of Cumbria