A Scottish operator has had its licence revoked, been disqualified for 10 years and banned from driving lorries for a decade after a traffic examiner uncovered “the worst owner/driver case” she had ever seen.
George William Stobbart, trading as Willie Stobbart Haulage, was also disqualified from acting as a transport manager after the country’s traffic commissioner heard about a large number of infringements and his sustained dishonesty.
An investigation into the company began after a traffic examiner received an allegation that Stobbart was driving for longer than other drivers.
The examiner discovered that between April 2018 and February 2019, he had committed a total of 155 driving infringements.
She also identified 78 instances of Stobbart making a false record and that he had been using the ‘out of scope’ mode on his tachograph unit to extend his driving time.
The director said he used the mode only when he was putting his HGV into the garage, or the “odd night” to park it up, but the traffic examiner found evidence that 5,166km had been covered by the vehicle in the out of scope mode.
On one occasion, the director had taken a daily rest of only five hours and 44 minutes and of the total number of infringements, 60 were classified as very serious.
At an Inverness public inquiry, Stobbart’s solicitor said his client’s vehicle had a 100% MOT pass rate and it was well maintained.
In addition, he had owned up immediately to what he had done and had been courteous and cooperative.
He also pointed out that regulatory action would have a devastating effect on Stobbart and his family as he was the sole bread winner and it could result in the loss of the family home.
But TC Claire Gilmore said it was highly unlikely he would comply in the future:
“Mr Stobbart’s actions gave rise to a significant and unacceptable risk to road safety and gave him an unfair commercial advantage over other operators,” she said.
“The sheer number of infringements at issue in this case, and my findings of repeated and sustained dishonesty on the part of Mr Stobbart, lead me to conclude that this is a most serious case.
“It was the worst of its kind even seen by an experienced traffic examiner and it involves breaches of trust which go to the heart of the licensing regime.”