A FORMER chauffeur hire boss partially demolished a pensioner’s house.
Terry Cooper accidentally drove his VW Tiguan into the home of his neighbour of 40 years, leaving a gaping hole in the property.
Mr Cooper, who once ran a luxury chauffeur hire firm, needed hospital treatment following the smash outside his home in Edinburgh.
The damage to James Rae’s property in North Gyle Loan was so severe it was possible to see the stairs from outside.
The 82-year-old said as he surveyed the damage: “I think it’s going to be a very different Christmas this year.”
He added: “I was sat in my kitchen having a cup of tea and I heard a loud bang and felt the house shake at about 10am.
“I walked through to the living room and the impact had made a lot of things fall on the floor.
“It was my neighbour, who lives opposite me, who had driven into my front door.
“We have been neighbours for about 40 years.”
The impact left a 6ft by 6ft hole in the house, wrecked the electricity meter, and pushed out the front door, on which a “No cold callers” sticker was still clearly visible.
Electricians had to be called to disconnect the supply to the house.
Mr Rae, who lives on his own, said: “I haven’t heard yet the exact extent of the damage. I’m staying at another neighbour’s house until I find out.”
Asked if he was friends with his neighbour, he replied: “We used to be!”
Mr Cooper, 65, was company director of a firm called Arden Chauffeur Drive, which described itself as “one of Edinburgh’s premier luxury chauffeur hire companies”.
The firm, which was wound up in 2010, provided “Mercedes S-Class and MPV’s” for executive and private hire, airport transfers, Scottish golf tours and wedding cars.
Margaret Breslin, 66, from Edinburgh, who used to work at the firm as a book-keeper and company secretary, said: “I think he had to retire due to ill-health. He had terrible back trouble and major operations. When I knew him he was walking with two sticks.”
A neighbour, who did not want to be named but said he was the head driver at Mr Cooper’s firm, said: “I was just on the phone to Terry who told me he’d had a blackout when he was driving.”
The neighbour said Mr Cooper had also worked as a taxi driver before setting up his company.
In 2001 it was reported that the former mechanic was enjoying a boom in business, with high profile customers including politicians Sir David Steel and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, and publisher Andrew Neil.
He said at the time his business customers included Transco and corporate advisors Beeson Gregory, as well as Luton Airport Security.
A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “This crash was purely accidental and there was no criminality involved.
“There was one person in the house at the time and he was uninjured.”