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Cabbie's drinking a 'recipe for disaster' says magistrate

Thatcham taxi driver thumped his partner in the face while drunk

John Garvey


01635 886639

A woman-beating cab driver with a serious drink problem was given a stark warning by magistrates.

After hearing how Gary Burden was both a full-time taxi driver and also an alcoholic, presiding magistrate Gary Norris told him: “It’s a recipe for disaster.”

The 49-year-old also has a conviction for drink-driving, the court was told on Thursday last week.

Joanna McGlew, prosecuting, told Reading magistrates that police were called to Mr Burden’s home in Hawthorne Close, Thatcham, by a distressed woman.

She said the door was opened by Mr Burden’s partner, Claire Croden, who was holding her hands to her face and had blood pouring from between her fingers.

Ms McGlew added: “There was a 10-year-old boy there who was extremely upset and crying.

“The defendant was in the living room. He appeared unsteady on his feet and smelled of alcohol.

“He told the officers there had been a verbal altercation and he had punched her on the nose.”

Nevertheless, the court heard, Ms Corden would not give evidence against Mr Burden, telling police that he had recently regained his licence following a 24-month drink-driving ban and that she did not want him to lose his taxi driver’s job.

The 10-year-old told police that he was scared that Mr Burden would start shouting and hit his mother like he had done previously, the court heard.

Mr Burden admitted assaulting Ms Croden by beating her on May 31.

Referring to his previous convictions, Ms McGlew said: “There’s quite a lot to read out.”

She said that, as well as drink-driving, they included an offence of battery against a former partner plus a caution for common assault.

A probation officer told magistrates: “Mr Burden tells me that the relationship with Ms Croden will resume.

“He accepts he has a problem with his alcohol use and has been attending [local substance misuse organisation] Swanswell.

“He is a full-time taxi driver working both day and night shifts and says the pressure of work, combined with that of raising children, contributed to this incident.”

Mr Burden, who represented himself, told the court: “I’ve put my hands up to it. It’s a problem I need to address. I’ve caused damage to my family.”

He then handed magistrates a letter which he said Ms Croden had written to them.

Mr Burden was made subject to a 12-month community order with 15 days’ rehabilitation activity requirement, plus a six-month alcohol treatment requirement.

In addition he was ordered to pay £85 costs plus a statutory victim services surcharge of £85.

Before he left the dock, presiding magistrate Gary Norris told him: “Being a cab driver, working long hours and having a drink problem is a recipe for disaster.

“I’m not officially telling you to do anything – but you do need to sort it.”

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