A GRATEFUL customer has praised a taxi driver’s Christmas spirit for handing back hundreds of pounds in cash he left in the back of his cab.

Mark Richley had enjoyed a night out with his sister on Newcastle Quayside before getting a Blue Line cab back to his home in Throckley, on the outskirts of the city.

But within seconds of being dropped off, 26-year-old Mr Richley realised he had left an envelope containing £550 in the taxi to be used for family Christmas presents.

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He frantically called staff at Blue Line’s offices to report the loss and they were able to relay the message to taxi driver Paul Barrett, who dropped the cash off the following morning.

Mr Richley, who works in South Korea as an English teacher, said: “I am so grateful to Paul for what he did as this was such a large sum of money – I was panicking when I realised I had lost it.

“I was only back in Newcastle for a few days catching up with my sister who I hadn’t seen for over a year.

“So many times you'd just think a driver or next passenger could easily pretend they hadn't found it, but Paul was really honest – not only did he keep it overnight but he gave me a few calls on my mobile to let me know he was dropping it off.”

Mr Barrett, who has been a taxi driver for 10 years, said he was used to finding items left behind by passengers in his cab, but never such a large amount of money.

The 34-year-old dad-of-three from West Denton added: “At first, I didn’t have a clue which passenger it belonged to but fortunately Blue Line reported that it had been lost and we were able to reunite Mark with his cash pretty quickly.”