Fantasist jailed after accusing innocent taxi driver of sexual assault

The Daily Telegraph reports that an innocent taxi driver was unable to provide financial support for his family after he was falsely accused of groping a female passenger, a court heard.

The father of three spent six hours in custody and faced possible sex assault charges as part of the “devastating impact” of claims made by Claire Morgan.

Morgan, 35, alleged she was sexually assaulted three days after she took a five-minute fare from the driver in Bridgend, south Wales in May last year.

She lied the man had taken her to an adventure playground, grabbed her breast and put his hand down her underwear.

The victim, a treasurer at his local mosque, was the sole source of income for his family but was forced to hand over his badge during a six-week investigation, the court heard. Police spent 60 hours investigating Morgan’s allegations as well as £450 on forensics.

A judge said the man avoided charges because of “diligence” from investigators while CCTV also proved inconsistencies in her account.

After reporting the fake offences, Morgan later set up a fake Facebook profile under the name Sarah Jenkins to answer a police appeal in which she claimed she witnessed the attack. She also made an anonymous call to Crimestoppers to provide further bogus details.

The driver was arrested – but Morgan’s web of lies began to unravel after she gave different accounts of the attack to friends.

Morgan’s clothes were taken for forensic examination but only her DNA were found on the items. She later admitted perverting the course of justice and was jailed for two-and-a-half years at Cardiff Crown court.

Judge Eleri Rees said: “She went to remarkable lengths to bolster her account.

The court heard Morgan had told lies in the past including that her daughter had left the Manchester Arena half an hour before the bomb went off and that her brother was killed by a drink driver.

Cardiff Crown Court heard the mother of one suffers from a personality disorder.
After the hearing, Detective Constable Steve Gunney said: “Her allegations also had a devastating impact on the man she accused.

“I hope she uses her time in prison to reflect on the harm her lies have caused.


Uber driver used as courier in drugs bust

A former rugby star was convicted after copying the hit TV show Breaking Bad to rake in hundreds of thousands of pounds by cooking crystal meth.

Lorenzo Bocchini, 36, set up a hi-tech drugs laboratory in his luxurious Little Venice home, where police recovered £300,000 of drugs, £33,000 cash and a stun gun.

Crystal meth at the flat was found to have been dyed blue — the colour of a narcotic created by fictional drug baron Walter White in Breaking Bad.

Bocchini’s brother Alessandro, 43, was arrested along with his wife Justine, 36, in the same police operation eight months earlier at their Bayswater home.

Officers recovered crystal meth, MDMA and £12,210 in cash. The couple pleaded guilty to a string of drugs offences, including possession with intent to supply crystal meth, the designer drug mephedrone, ecstasy and cocaine. They were jailed earlier for six and four years respectively.

Footage seized from CCTV inside their home showed the pair counting thousands of pounds worth of cash just hours before they were raided.

Police say the family members ran a wholesale drugs distribution network using an Uber driver as a courier to transport packages to users around London, referring to the deliveries as “T-bags”.

A financial investigation identified £100,000 of drugs money went via the couple’s bank accounts in the six months before their arrest.

In total, detectives believe they have identified millions of pounds of assets, including a flat in Dubai.

The family were targeted by detectives from Lambeth police’s Omega drugs and firearms team in a long-running surveillance and intelligence operation. Detectives had been investigating a spate of deaths from chemsex drugs such as GHB, including fatalities at a gay sauna in Vauxhall.

Today Det Con Matt Clark, who led the investigation, said: “The Bocchini family were making significant profits selling highly dangerous and addictive class A drugs. What we uncovered was the wholesale supply of crystal methlyamphetamine and other drugs, focusing on the ‘chemsex’ scene in south London.

“The use of crystal meth within this scene is hugely damaging and we believe there are strong connections to drug deaths, rape and child sexual exploitation, links which we continue to investigate.”

Alessandro was identified as a supplier of wholesale amounts of crystal meth and police raided his Bayswater house last November.

His wife Justine, the mother of two young children, told officers as the pair were held: “It was a good life.” During interviews, both denied possessing or dealing drugs and Justine claimed she just “baked cup cakes”.

However, photographic evidence from Alessandro’s phone showed a kitchen table laden with crystal meth in a preparation phase prior to sale, with a text message from him that read: “Well cooked my little chef.”

His brother Lorenzo was due to be sentenced at Southwark crown court on December 1 for drugs supply offences. He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.

When officers raided his rented flat in July, as well as drugs and cash they found sachets of dye used to colour the crystal meth blue in an apparent copy of the Breaking Bad series.

Police say all three offenders grew hooked on the drugs they supplied.

Det Insp Stephen Payne, of Omega squad, said the case was unusual because none of the main offenders were previously known to police.

He added: “In that sense it was like the Breaking Bad scenario. These were professional people who made a choice to go into this venture. They were not career criminals but were looking for an opportunity to make money out of nothing.

“They lived a high-roller, Breaking Bad lifestyle, not really knowing what to do with the cash. They even seemed to adopt the Breaking Bad signature of dying their crystal meth blue.”

Lorenzo Bocchini played as a prop for two Italian club sides in his career between 2000 and 2010, including for Viadana in the Heineken Cup.
In 2010 he was named by the British press as one of the players from the L’Aquila club who helped survivors when an earthquake hit the town.


“Words can’t express your stupidity” — Angus taxi driver sacked after touching teenager

An Angus taxi driver was sacked by his employer after he sexually assaulted a teenager, a court heard.

Brian Michie from Brechin appeared at Forfar Sheriff Court and admitted assaulting the female at his home.

The court heard the 60-year-old had become “attracted” to the teenager and had “made a move” on April 23 this year.

But he was told by a sheriff that words “can’t express” his stupidity at grabbing the young woman’s breast.

The court heard Michie had been working as a private hire driver in the area but was no longer licenced.

Defending Michie, solicitor Robin Beattie said his client had been sacked as soon as the offence was reported to his former employer.

He told the court: “He was previously working as a taxi driver.

“However he was sacked on the day of his initial plea in the court.

“That’s not surprising,” said Sheriff Gregor Murray.

Mr Beattie continued: “I think that’s one of the conditions of being a licenced driver.

“She…was friendly to him, at least until the offence.

“He accepts that he was sexually attracted to her and that was what caused him to make a move.”

Sheriff Murray told him: “Words can’t express your stupidity and the folly of what you did, and you’ll have to pay for that.”

The sheriff imposed a community payback order with supervision requirements, and 125 hours of unpaid work to be completed within nine months.

Michie was placed on the interim sex offenders register at his plea, and will remain on the register for the term of the order.

Michie, of Drumachlie Park, admitted a single charge on summary complaint of sexually assaulting the woman by touching her breast, contrary to section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act (Scotland) 2009.


Ex-soldier and taxi drivers among those caught in undercover sting on Newcastle drug dealers

Using covert recording equipment, undercover police officers posed as users to trap people in the city centre and West End who were ‘peddling misery’

A former soldier and taxi drivers were among those snared in an undercover police sting to nab drug dealers in Newcastle.

Using covert recording equipment, police officers posed as users to trap people in the city centre and West End who were willing to supply cocaine and cannabis.

Ex-squaddie David Nixon was one of those caught dealing cocaine in Operation Themis, along with his then-partner, sometimes with young children in the car.

Taxi driver Shamsher Iqbal was caught selling drugs as he tried to save up for a new car while Amar Khan got involved after losing his job as a cabbie following a driving conviction.

Now Nixon, Iqbal and Khan have been locked up at Newcastle Crown Court while Nixon’s partner and another man got suspended prison sentences.

Judge Tim Gittins told them they had been “peddling misery”, adding: “It can’t be said often enough that these drugs blight lives and kill.

“They cause untold misery for those who take them and their friends and family who have to deal with the effects and for the wider innocent public, who are affected directly and indirectly by offences committed to fund addictions or offences committed while under the influence of drugs.”

Nixon, 24, and Michele Summerside, 27, both of Bishop’s Road, Benwell, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine after being caught selling to an undercover officer.

Nixon supplied cocaine on six occasions while Summerside supplied once and was present twice when Nixon was dealing.

In July last year officer ‘John’ met Summerside outside Lidl on Benwell Lane.

Matthew Bean, prosecuting, said: “Two children were in the rear seat, aged around three to four years old.

“John paid £40 for two wraps.”

On another occasion Nixon had a female child in the car when he turned up to sell £20 of cocaine, the court heard.

Judge Gittins told them: “One appalling aggravating feature of the offences so far as both of you are concerned is you were with your young children on occasions when you met the purchaser, so they were present when you were supplying serious class A drugs.”

When police went to Summerside’s home in Benwell they found more than 56g of cocaine worth up to £6,000, plus more than £1,000 in cash.

Nixon, who also admitted attacking a door supervisor in a pub with a pool cue in May, was jailed for a total of three years and five months.

Andrew Walker, mitigating, said: “He served his country in Afghanistan twice in the Royal Signals and served in the British Army until he was medically discharged last year.

“He was medically discharged with post-traumatic stress disorder because of his experiences on the battlefield.”

Summerside was given two years suspended for two years with a six-month curfew.

Jonathan Cousins, for Summerside, said she cares for her three young children and her sister and “bitterly regrets” becoming involved to help Nixon when he got into debt.

Mr Cousins said: “Most of all, she very bitterly regrets the children being in the vehicle when she did the deal.

“She felt she couldn’t leave the children in the house because there were no other carers.”

In separate offences linked only by the police operation, Iqbal, 26, supplied drugs to an undercover officer in October and November last year in the Mill Lane area, near Westgate Road.

When he was arrested he was found to have more than £3,000 in cash and told police he was a cabbie.

When the undercover officer asked Iqbal for cocaine, he said he didn’t sell it but introduced him to former taxi driver Amar Khan.

Iqbal, of Beaconsfield Street, Arthur’s Hill, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to two counts of supplying cannabis and one of supplying cocaine and was jailed for 18 months.

Khan, 25, of Ladykirk Road, Benwell, admitted supplying £40 wraps of cocaine on five occasions between November 4 and 12 and was jailed for two years and seven months.

Iqbal’s barrister said he had sold cannabis for a limited period to help him save up to buy his own taxi and said he was not a cocaine dealer or user and had simply facilitated a cocaine deal with Khan on one occasion.

Iqbal lost his job as a taxi driver when police informed his employers of his arrest on the drugs charges.

The court heard he has a partner and child and has now quit drugs.

Khan’s barrister said he started taking cocaine after losing his job as a taxi driver and began dealing to fund his £50 a day habit.

In another case, Klodian Maleti, 23, of Baxter Avenue, Fenham, Newcastle, admitted one offence of supplying cocaine to an undercover officer called ‘Chris’ on October 13 last year for £50.

He was given a two year suspended prison sentence with 200 hours unpaid work and a six month curfew.

The court heard he had come to the UK in 1999 from war-torn Kosovo and got addicted to drugs while at university but is intelligent, hard-working and is now off drugs and extremely remorseful.

The sentences of six other people who have admitted drugs offences were adjourned until later this year.


Taxi driver Mubashir Butt molested drunken female passenger in back of cab

Judge tells him he had breached trust but gave him a suspended jail term

A taxi driver who sexually molested a drunken passenger in the back of his car has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Leeds Crown Court heard Mubashir Butt collected the woman from Brighouse and was driving her to Kirkburton in Huddersfield on the evening of October 9 last year when an issue arose about paying the fare.

He told her: “I don’t think you have enough money to pay for this taxi – you can pay in different ways.”

Christopher Smith, prosecuting, told the court yesterday the woman told him that suggestion was not acceptable and asked him just to drive her home.

While driving along Penistone Road he did not take the turn she expected towards where she lived but continued on to a petrol station.

CCTV showed him parking up close to the exit, getting out of the driver’s seat and getting in the back of the taxi.

The headlights illuminated suggesting he had locked the car once he was inside. His victim tried to get out but discovered she could not. She was wearing a tight low cut dress and he put his arm around her and tried to kiss her.

Mr Smith said she pulled away from him and he then put both hands on her breasts and touched her skin before stroking her right leg while leaning in towards her.

His passenger screamed and when she again pushed him away he got out of the back of the taxi and then drove her home. She arrived in a hysterical state and ran in barefoot carrying her shoes in her hand.

When the attack was reported to the police and Butt was arrested he claimed he had only got into the back of the car to help her extract money from her purse. He said they had gone to the petrol station so should get cash from the machine for the fare.

John Boumphrey, representing Butt, said he had found it hard to talk about what he had done but had expressed feelings of guilt and shame.

He was the only cash earner supporting his family and also sent money back to family in Pakistan so if he was jailed it would cause hardship to them. The probation service had also indicated they felt they could work with him.

Butt, 35 of Tate Naylor Street, Dewsbury, admitted sexual assault and was given a 12 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months with 15 days rehabilitation activity requirement and 100 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

Judge Mushtaq Khokhar said his passenger was vulnerable because she was drunk, adding: “You as a taxi driver acted in breach of trust in carrying out this sexual assault. She expected to be conveyed to her home address.”

He said Butt had no reason to get into the back of the car with her in breach of his training but had clearly decided an opportunity had arisen because of her condition.

However, he had not pursued his actions and had never been in trouble before for such behaviour.


Rhyl female taxi driver was in on crowbar attack plot …. on passenger in her cab

A female cabbie was in on a plot that saw men stop her taxi and attack the passenger she was carrying.

Gary Morgan was being taken along River Street in Rhyl when another car pulled in front of the cab he was in.

Two men jumped out and, armed with a knife and an iron bar, dragged Mr Morgan from the taxi and began to beat him.

Mr Morgan managed to defend himself as blows were rained down on him.

Taxi driver Bonnie Ainsley had offered to take the injured man to hospital after the attack, but he insisted on using her phone to call 999.

During the course of the police investigation, detectives found that there had been calls between her mobile and one belonging to one of the attackers in the hours leading up to the beating.

When she was interviewed by police after the August 2015 attack, the 40-year-old single mum claimed that she’d been asked by one of the gang to pick Mr Morgan up so they could attack him, but she’d refused.

However, she had gone a different route to the one Mr Morgan had originally asked for, and hadn’t seem surprised when the other car suddenly pulled up, blocking her path.

Today, she was found guilty to conspiracy to assault Mr Morgan by a jury at Mold Crown Court, and sentenced to 18 month in prison, suspended for two years.

The only reason she had avoided jail was because she had to care for her young son, Judge Rhys Rowlands told her.

She was placed on rehabilitation and she was tagged for four months to remain indoors between 9pm and 7am.

Her defence barrister Gary Rawlinson said she denied having any part of a plan to attack anyone.

In August, Aldo Tamburrini, 23, of Rhydwen Drive, Rhyl, was jailed for two and a half years for his part in the attack.

Christopher Roper, 27, of Hen-afon Road, Rhyl, received 28 months.

The conspiracy charge was dropped against Ryan Adamson, 22, of Rhyl Road, Rhuddlan, who stayed in the car while the other two attacked Mr Morgan.

He received an eight month prison sentence suspended for a year with 120 hours unpaid work in the community after he admitted assisting an offender on the basis that he drove the men away from the scene.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Morgan said that it had affected him greatly and he was medication for anxiety and depression.

What had happened to him would stay with him for the rest of his life, he said.

Ainslie, of Llewellyn Court, Rhyl, is now working in a cafe. Judge Rowlands said the police should tell Denbighshire council’s taxi licensing authority about her, because it would be inappropriate for her to return to driving a cab given the part she had played in the conspiracy.


Taxi driver caught with £250,000 in his Skoda

A taxi driver who was caught out for being involved in a £2million money laundering racket has been jailed after being found with £250,000 on the back seat of his car.

Authorities found the cash in a bag on the back seat of Waqas Ilyas’ Skoda when they swooped in April, 2015, the Manchester Evening News reports.

Investigators then uncovered another £36,435 hidden under his mattress at his Manchester home and a ledger which detailed a month of dodgy transactions worth a huge £1.7million.

Ilyas, 35, and his partner Nazia Ghafar, 31, a saleswoman, were arrested and claimed the cash was linked to the ‘hawala’ alternative money transfer system.

Investigators found the cash in a bag on the back seat of Waqas Ilyas’ Skoda

The system is used by people without a bank account to transfer cash, particularly in the Middle East, Africa and Indian subcontinent.

As it is unregulated in many jurisdictions, it is also used to launder criminal cash.

Ilyas and his partner at first denied the crime but changed their pleas on the eve of a trial when faced with overwhelming evidence.

Following months of investigation under the codename Operation Katowice, officials from HM Revenue and Customs swooped on Ilyas’ 2005-registered Skoda Octavia, only worth about £3,000, and found a bag stuffed with £248,880 in cash on the back seat.

They carried out another search at the home he shared with Ghafar in Melville Road in Stretford and they found a further £36,435 hidden under their mattress in a JD Sports carrier bag.

Also uncovered was a ‘ledger book’ which listed transactions totalling £1.7million covering a one month period.

The pair had initially denied money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act but they changed their pleas on the eve of their trial at Manchester Crown Court.

And they didn’t challenge the seizure of the cash.

Ilyas was jailed for four years while Ghafar was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence.

The investigation did not establish which crime – for instance drug dealing or tax fraud – had generated the criminal cash.

Following the hearing, Richard Wentel, assistant director of the Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: “This couple realised their weak explanations would not stand up in court and finally admitted their crimes.

“HMRC will not tolerate this illegal economy. If there is no legitimate reason for bundles of cash like this we will seize it – explain it or lose it.
“Crime doesn’t pay and we will always target money laundering.

“I would urge anyone who has information about this type of activity or witnesses suspicious large cash transactions to call the 24-hour Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”


Minicab driver overturned his car after taking cocaine

A private hire driver crashed into parked cars and overturned his private hire car after taking cocaine.

David Deacon said a passenger had previously left the wrap of white powder in his cab so he put some on his finger and tasted it.

Deacon, 31, now a packer in a biscuit factory, of Elgin Place, Grange Park, pleaded guilty to drug driving.

He was banned from the road for 12 months, fined £320 with £40 costs and ordered to pay £32 victims’ surcharge by Blackpool magistrates. Prosecutor, Martine Connah, said Deacon was taken to hospital on July 3 at 1am after he crashed his electric Nissan Leaf cab into several parked cars and then overturned on the resort’s Lytham Road.

A blood test showed he was almost seven times over the limit with 73 units of cocaine in his body – the specified limit is 10 units.

Gary McAnulty, defending, said his client, who had no previous convictions, was driving his minicab that night when he found the wrap of powder which had been left in his cab.

He had put his finger in it and tried some, not thinking anything about it. Deacon was suffering from blackouts and had had two previously. He had now given up driving minicabs.

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Bristol taxi driver on trial for attempted murder

The Bristol post reports a taxi driver inflicted a terrifying attack on his ex-wife in which she thought she would die, a jury has heard.

Mourad Tighilt was charged with attempted murder after the incident – but psychiatrists have agreed he is suffering from mental illness and is unfit to either plead or stand trial.

Jurors at Bristol Crown Court were told today that they had to decide whether the 47-year-old, of no fixed address, did the act alleged.

Richard Posner, prosecuting, told the jury Tighilt is too unwell to stand trial and their duty was to decide if he was responsible for inflicting injuries on his wife and was attempting to kill her.

Mr Posner said it was in June last year that Tighilt, a former secretary of the Bristol branch of the National Taxi Association, drove from Nailsea to his former matrimonial home in Bishopsworth, and smothered and pummelled his ex-wife Joanna in her bedroom.

The court heard the attack stopped when one of Mrs Tighilt’s children came into her bedroom, and she called police.

Her ex-husband was arrested shortly afterwards, telling police he had attacked his wife and had heard a female voice in his head.

Mr Posner told the jury: “He said the voice encouraged him to attack and kill his wife.

“He presented as perplexed and distressed.”

The jury watched a video recording in which a bruised Mrs Tighilt gave an emotional account of her ordeal.

Fighting back tears, she said: “I’d gone to bed and I was being attacked.

“There were hands ’round my throat and pillows were put on my face.

“I couldn’t move my hands properly and I was struggling and struggling.

“I couldn’t get free. It was going on and on and on, the pillows, the struggling.

“At one point I managed to get my head out from under the pillows.

“I was trying to get up.

“There was just this pain. I was being punched until I went back down.”

Mrs Tighilt said she tried to fight her attacker off but she couldn’t move.

She said: “It just went on and on. I thought I was going to die.”

She told the jury it was only when one her son’s came to her room and shouted “Stop, stop doing that!” when the attack stopped.

She said: “I didn’t know who it was. It was just, like, a grey figure, so big and ominous.

“It wasn’t like a person. It was a person’s figure.”

She described how every time she tried to fight back she was punched “bam, bam, bam” and fell back.

She said: “I was grabbing something. It didn’t feel like flesh.”

The case continues.


Flint taxi driver convicted of rape fled ‘to Syria’

Sultan Amari
Sultan Amari

A Flintshire taxi driver sentenced to 11 years in jail after raping a student twice following a night out has fled the country, a court has heard.

Syrian-born Sultan Amari, 46, from Flint, was due to return to the trial on Monday but sent an email saying he had no intention of returning.
He boarded a flight to Istanbul on Sunday and it is understood he could be headed for Syria.

He was convicted in his absence at Warrington Crown Court.

The last time the father-of-one attended the court was on Friday when he was giving evidence.

A warrant has been issued for Amari’s arrest and police enquiries to trace his whereabouts are ongoing.

During the trial he claimed sex with his victim had been consensual after he had picked her up and had taken her to a house he owned in Chester in July last year.

When it became apparent Amari was not going to turn up at court, the judge Tina Landale told the jury: “All I can say to you is he is not here and we are going to continue with the trial.”

She ordered an investigation into how Amari managed to breach his bail conditions and leave the country.

‘Vulnerable woman’

The court had heard how his victim could not recall anything that happened in between leaving a bar in Chester and waking up naked and alone in an unfamiliar house where he raped her twice over a period of about eight hours.

But she later had a flashback that she was lying face-down on a mattress, unable to move her arms or open her eyes, with a man having intercourse with her.

Amari was given 11 years for each count of rape to be served concurrently.

Judge Landale said: “This was a gross breach of trust with a very vulnerable woman.

“CCTV showed that she was totally incapable of walking in a straight line and she was obviously drunk.

“The public are entitled to be protected by people like Mr Amari but instead he exploited and took advantage of her.”

The victim said her relationship with her mother has suffered, as she feels she cannot be as open about her feelings for fear of upsetting her, and she feels she will never be able to get in a taxi again.