North East Wales

Wrexham 'locked' taxi fare complaint investigated

Jools Payne
Image caption Jools Payne said her daughter felt 'quite fearful'

Police are to investigate a complaint that a Wrexham-based taxi driver locked two young women in his car in a row over a fare.

The alleged incident happened at about 04:00 GMT on Monday after two friends were taken from Wrexham to the Ceiriog Valley.

The women claim they were forced to pay or be driven back to Wrexham.

Wrexham and Prestige Taxis denied the car was locked and said they showed "classic signs of doing a runner".

One of the women's mother Jools Payne, from Dolywern, said her 21-year-old daughter and a friend ordered a taxi from the town centre firm after a night out.

She claims the women were by "no means wasted" and agreed an £18 fee with a taxi marshal.

However, one mile from the destination, she says the women were told the fare had risen to £26.

The taxi driver then allegedly locked the car doors and told the women they would have to leave a mobile phone while one of them went to get money.

Ms Payne says the driver then threatened to drive them back to Wrexham but the women agreed to pay the extra charge.

She claims the driver was in a "temper" and locked her daughter in the taxi while her friend went to get more money.

She said: "My daughter tried to get out of the taxi but both the back doors were locked. At this point she felt very vulnerable and slightly panicky."

Ms Payne said the driver also demanded an extra £10 for "wasted" time, but the women refused to pay it.

Ms Payne said: "My daughter, by now feeling quite fearful, kept trying the doors, but they remained locked whilst her friend was in her house getting the extra cash.

"The additional fare was given to the driver but the pair bravely refused to pay the further £10 he had demanded for 'wasted time' and he finally released the door locks.

"My daughter got out of the car and he simply sped off.

"The girls were left shaken by the experience at the time but today that has given way to anger and dismay at their treatment by the taxi driver."

Child locks

She added: "As a mother I am alarmed and appalled at this man's behaviour.

"We worry about our youngsters when they're out partying but we expect them to be safe in a taxi.

"To my mind, locking a young woman in a car and refusing to let her out is tantamount to withholding someone against their will."

North Wales Police confirmed it had received a complaint and would investigate. Wrexham council has also received a complaint and says it will look into the matter.

A spokeswoman from Wrexham and Prestige Taxis said the driver was an "excellent" employee who had worked for them for three years.

She said the car had child locks but they were not on at the time and the car doors were never locked.

She said the driver had CCTV in the vehicle and the footage would be reviewed.

The spokeswoman said the driver had overheard the women saying they only had £12 and were texting each other to plan "a runner".

She added: "He told me he was going to drive them back to Wrexham and take them to the police station because they obviously didn't have enough money on them.

"They wouldn't give him an exact address either. These are all classic signs of doing a runner.

"He's done nothing wrong. In all fairness, I think he's done everything fine."

She added that the initial fare had been quoted because the women specified Chirk, but the journey was to the Glyn Ceiriog valley.

She said the driver had been "on a wild goose chase", and "wouldn't give the driver any information about where they lived, so he said 'you need to leave something'.

"It's normal practice to leave a phone or something like that."