Taxi driver hands new mum £40 cleaning bill for birth in back of his cab
As we all know, childbirth is a beautiful - but very messy - thing. So when one taxi driver had the privilege of having a mother give birth in the back of his cab, his first thought was: "Who's going to pay for the cleaning?"
So determined was driver Steven Morrell that it wasn't going to be him, two days after the miracle of birth, he drove to new mum Jenny Larkin's house and handed her a £40 valeting bill.
Jenny, 22, had been forced to call for a cab in the early hours of the morning after going into labour in Redcar, North Yorkshire.
But as Mr Morrell pulled up outside the maternity unit she started giving birth and midwives had no choice but to deliver the baby in the vehicle.
The mother-of-three, who travelled to hospital with partner Tim Galloway, 29, in the back of the car later named her 7lb 15oz child Finley.
Mr Morrell, who works for J&P Taxis, put plastic sheeting down in the front of the vehicle but the seat was damaged anyway. He said that he lost two days' takings while the vehicle was off the road.
Jenny told her local paper: "Tim told them it was for maternity and when he came he had some plastic sheeting on the front seat and said it was fine for me to sit there.
"We got on the A174 and I said the baby was coming. By the time we were pulling up at the hospital, the baby was already coming out.
"Five midwives rushed out to see what the situation was and there my baby boy was, hanging down and in a bit of shock. I had to deliver him there. That's when he said to my partner, 'I want the cleaning bill'."
Jenny was admitted to James Cook University Hospital's maternity unit in Middlesbrough after giving birth in the early hours of last Friday morning.
Both mother and baby were discharged later the same day after being checked over. The following Monday the driver turned up at their home and presented them with a cleaning bill for £40.
Jenny, who also has two girls Elise, five, and Ruby, two, said: 'I was absolutely mortified. He knew he was going to maternity before he even set off and had put plastic sheets on the front seat.
"We are on benefits and £40 is a lot of money. We had paid £16 already for the fare.
"Tim said to him, 'How do you expect us to pay that sort of money?' and he said 'Pay us when you've got it'."
The taxi driver, who is responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of his own cab as part of his self-employed contract with J&P Taxis, said such events are 'one of the hazards of the job'.
He added: "Unfortunately someone's got to pay for it. I don't think I'm being nasty asking for the valeting cost back.
"I couldn't work on Friday or Saturday because the interior was still wet so I lost two days' takings."
Craig Walker, who owns J&P Taxis, has asked Jenny to get in contact with him about what happened.
He added: "Steven has obviously had to take the car off the road after that. He's had to pay to get it cleaned and he's lost takings."
He added the driver had the right to pass on his bill to the family in accordance with a council bylaw.