A HELENSBURGH taxi driver claims his livelihood is “being destroyed” over reports of the cost of a taxi journey from Helensburgh to Faslane.

James Scott contacted the Advertiser in response to a report in our July 18 edition on a former Navy man, David Smith, who was kicked out of the service after assaulting police officers and a paramedic in an incident near the base on November 24 last year.

Smith pleaded guilty to three charges of assault and one of threatening or abusive behaviour following an investigation of the incident, which happened after he took a taxi, driven by Mr Scott, from the centre of the town to the naval base.

READ MORE: Navy man kicked out after assaults on police and paramedic near Faslane

At Dumbarton Sheriff Court on July 12, Smith was ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work within nine months as a punishment, and was put under social workers’ supervision for a year.

However, the Crown dropped one further charge against Smith, in which he was originally accused of failing to pay a £55 taxi fare to get to the base from Helensburgh.

And though the terms of that dropped charge were reported fully and accurately in the Advertiser, Mr Scott says the wording of the charge doesn’t tell the full story.

Mr Scott, who was not identified in our July 18 report, says that the standard fare from West Clyde Street to Faslane, under the tariff which was in operation at the time of the incident, is actually £15.

He said: “I’m having members of the public, and other taxi drivers, wanting to know why I’m charging £55 to take somebody from the town to the base, and I’m not.

“I took the guy from East Clyde Street to the base, which would have cost £15, but when we got there he didn’t have any money to pay for the journey.

“I brought him back to Helensburgh, which is another £15, and he ran up another £10 in ‘waiting time’ while he went to a cash machine.

“Then I took him back to the base again, costing £15. That’s where the £55 total comes from.

“I’ve lost a lot of business out of these rumours. People are not coming into my taxi, and I’m being persecuted for something I didn’t do.”

But regardless of the total cost of the trip, and Smith’s not guilty plea, Mr Scott says he was never paid the cost of the journey after the third leg of the trip – which ended when Smith tumbled out of the taxi and lay motionless at the side of the road before police, and later paramedics, went to his aid.

READ MORE: Man charged with three counts of assault in Helensburgh

Smith spat in the eye of one of the police officers and, while being taken to hospital, struck one of the paramedics in the face with his knee - sparking his arrest, charge and subsequent court case, and then to his being discharged from the Navy after three and a half years’ military service.

Mr Scott also told the Advertiser of his anger at the Ministry of Defence Police – whose officers, he claims, promised him shortly after the trip that he would be refunded the £55.

“One MoD Police officer told me ‘don’t worry, you’ll get your money back’,” Mr Scott continued.

“But when I contacted the MoD Police to ask about it later, I was told ‘oh, we don’t really do that, and whoever told you that was wrong’.

“I feel as if I’ve been let down despite trying to help the police.

“I’m an honest, hard-working, church-going guy, and I feel I’ve had a raw deal from every side.”

An MoD Police spokesperson said it would not be common practice for the Ministry of Defence to cover the private taxi fares of off-duty personnel, but said that without more detailed information on the incident it was not possible to comment further.