A TAXI driver who kept working, unofficially, despite receiving £42,000 in insurance, must pay that sum in a crime proceeds confiscation.

Rodney Bell received the overall pay out after claiming he was unable to work due to injuries suffered in a road accident, in 2007.

But Durham Crown Court was told council enforcement officers discovered Bell was operating an unlicensed taxi in Richmondshire.

A joint inquiry between the district council and fraud specialists from the City of London Police led to court proceedings in Durham, last October.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud and received a two-year prison term, suspended for two years, at a subsequent sentencing hearing, on November 2.

The, now, 53-year-old defendant, of Gayle Lane, Hawes, was also made subject of a three-month, electronically-monitored 9pm to 7am home curfew, and had to attend 30 rehabilitation activity days with the Probation Service.

He returned to court for a crime proceeds hearing, on Friday, when it was agreed his benefit from the crime was £42,310.

Peter Sabiston said his available assets were assessed at £194,700, mostly made up of equity in his home, after the mortgage, plus £1,700 savings in a bank account.

Recorder Craig Hassall QC, therefore, made a confiscation order for £42,310 to be paid within three months or the defendant will be at risk of a nine-month prison sentence in default of payment.

The recorder told Bell, however, if he is unable to pay the sum in three months his solicitors could apply to the magistrates’ court for an extension of up to a further three months.

Ismael Uddin, for Bell, said he has applied for a re-mortgage in the hope that he will not have to sell his home.

But Recorder Hassall told him that on the expiry of the three-months, or six-months if an extension is granted, if payment of the £42,310 has still not been made, Bell may have to serve the nine-month sentence and the Crown can seek an enforcement recovery sale of the house from “under” the defendant.