Banbury taxi driver fined for lying about criminal record

Banbury Cake reports that A CONVICT with a history of assaulting a schoolchild has been fined for lying in his application for a taxi licence.

On Monday, Abdul Ghafoor of Grimsbury Square, Banbury pleaded guilty of making a false statement under The Local Government Act 1976.

Having failed to disclose his criminal record when applying for a taxi licence, he was ordered to pay £1,240, including a £400 fine and £800 of costs.

In 2014, Ghafoor had had his taxi licence revoked for assaulting a school child in his taxi.

He reapplied in 2016 and his application was denied because of a history which included two counts of dangerous driving and the assault by beating.

In April 2019 he submitted a fresh licence application and stated that he had no prior convictions, but an investigation swiftly led to suspicions that he was making a false statement.
Cherwell District Councillor Andrew McHugh, executive member with responsibility for licensing, said: “Passenger safety is our paramount concern when it comes to the licensing of taxi drivers.

We work to make sure anyone and everyone who holds a taxi driver is a fit and proper person.

“Our officers have thorough knowledge of what occurs on their patch. Anyone who thinks they can get away with withholding a criminal past from them will find they have another thing coming – as this conviction proves.”

Council policy requires that anyone wanting to drive a private hire vehicle or Hackney carriage in the district completes mandatory safeguarding training, a fit and proper person check and a Disclosure and Barring Service check.

The council refuses any application from people convicted of the most serious offences and requires proof of ten years of good behaviour for those with spent convictions for minor offences.

source: https://www.banburycake.co.uk/news/17985283.banbury-taxi-driver-fined-lying-criminal-record/

National register for banned taxi drivers welcomed by Wakefield cabbies union

The Wakefield Express reports that A national register for taxi drivers who’ve been barred from the trade has been backed by the union representing cabbies in Wakefield.

The government is introducing a UK-wide database to prevent rogue cabbies from getting a licence from a local authority, after being stripped of their right to trade elsewhere.

Wakefield Council, which has refused or revoked more than 300 taxi driver licences since 2003, says the register will make the system more “robust”.

And the Wakefield District Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Association has also backed the move, and says it is long overdue.

Association chairman Wajid Ali said: “The register has been a piece of work that’s been put together by local authorities, and it’s been about two years in the making.

“It’s a good thing because it eradicates the bad drivers, and it means everyone knows who is licensing who.

“It should have been done years ago, really.”

Until now, the only way councils have known if a driver applying for a licence has been banned elsewhere is if the information is volunteered by the driver themselves.

Wakefield Council’s licensing committee will meet to discuss the register next week, and how the local authority will comply with its requirements.

A report going before councillors said that 322 individual records dating back 16 years will be uploaded to the database once it opens.

The report added: “The use of the register will provide a more robust approach to considering applications for a taxi licence and will allow the council to ensure they access significant and relevant intelligence nationwide in determining such applications.”

https://www.wakefieldexpress.co.uk/news/politics/national-register-for-banned-taxi-drivers-welcomed-by-wakefield-cabbies-union-1-10058039

Taxi driver refused to pick up two visually impaired people and their guide dogs

Devon Live reports that a taxi driver who refused to transport guide dogs and their visually impaired owners has been fined and had his hackney carriage driver licence revoked.

Syed Al Miah recently appeared at Exeter Magistrates Court after launching an appeal against East Devon District Council’s decision to take away his licence following a complaint.

It was alleged he had refused to transport two visually impaired people and their guide dogs in his vehicle after they had requested a taxi to take them from a hotel to the train station in December 2017.

The court was told when the taxi driver arrived at the hotel, he informed hotel staff and the two customers he would not take the dogs and drove away.

It was heard Miah, of Birchwood Avenue, Weston Super Mare, had changed his story on several occasions.

At interview he said he was scared of the dogs, but at a licensing hearing he stated for safety reasons he believed his vehicle not to be big enough, despite it being licensed to carry five passengers.

At the appeal hearing he claimed when arriving at the hotel he wasn’t sure if he had attended the correct job.

During an investigation into the complaint by the council, officers established he had not operated as a taxi driver in East Devon at any point since obtaining his licence from the district council in 2016, but instead had worked from North Somerset where the incident occurred.

East Devon’s licensing sub-committee decided to revoke the taxi driver’s licence as they felt he was no longer considered as a fit and proper person to hold the licence due to his actions, and he did not operate as a taxi driver in East Devon.

Councils have legal powers to suspend or revoke the licence of a taxi driver on certain grounds and all councils granting licences to taxi drivers need to be satisfied that the person is fit and proper.

The Equality Act 2010 sets out the legal duty of taxi drivers to carry assistance dogs ensuring they do not discriminate against any person because of disability and to carry a disabled person’s dog by allowing it to remain with the person and not to make any additional charge for doing so. Refusal to carry registered assistance dogs without an exemption certificate is a strict liability offence.

Exeter magistrates found in favour of the council and the decision it had made to take Miah’s licence away.

Following the court hearing, Cllr Steve Hall, chairman of East Devon District Council’s licensing sub-committee, said: “The council recognises the serious nature of these allegations and the impact upon those individuals being refused transport.

“I’m pleased to say that the magistrates agreed with our approach and we will not hesitate to defend further appeals of this nature to ensure that the public receives a fair service. The safety of our public is paramount.”

source

Uber driver ‘smothered children with petrol soaked rag’

Court told Endris Mohammed bought three litres of petrol before starting fire in family home

A uber driver killed his two children by smothering them with a petrol soaked rag and then started a blaze while his wife slept upstairs at their home in Birmingham, a court heard

Endris Mohammed who had also tried to cause an explosion by tampering with the gas, fled from the scene.

He then drove to a road in Staffordshire where he was later found near his car suffering from burns.

Mohammed, 47, has denied murdering eight year old Saros and his six year old daughter Leanor as well as attempting to murder his wife Penil Teklehaimanot.

Jonas Hankin QC, prosecuting at Birmingham Crown Court, said: “At 3.37am on October 28 last year the emergency services received the first of many 999 calls.

“They were connected with a house fire at Holland Road, Hamstead the home of the defendant where he lived with his wife and two children.

“They found Saros and Leanor lifeless on the ground outside the house. Both children were in cardiac arrest and both had chemical burns on their faces.”

Mr Hankin said attempts were made to revive them but they were pronounced dead after being taken to hospital.

The trial heard that investigators later examined the scene and discovered: “Escape routes had been impeded, the electricity supply had been disabled and attempts had been made to release gas in the property by damaging a gas pipe that supplied the kitchen cooker.”

Mr Hankin added: “The true reason why the defendant killed his children and attempted to kill his wife may never be known. His explanation for killing his children was that they would be better off dead than living without him and it was his intention to commit suicide.”

Mohammed came to the UK in 2006 from Ethiopia and married his wife in the same year. She was employed as a care worker while he got a job with Uber.

On the day before the deaths Mohammed had worked as normal before going to a petrol station and buying a container which he filled with three litres of fuel.

His wife went to bed at around midnight while he was downstairs with their children.

Mr Hankin said Mohammed drove away from the property at around 3.30am and shortly after that his wife was woken by the smoke alarm, came down stairs and put out the fire.

She then went outside but realised her children were still in the house, the court was told

Mr Hankin said she found them in the lounge and thought they were asleep but when they were taken outside it was apparent they were “unconscious and lifeless.”

He said Mohammed had driven up the M6 and parked in a road in Newcastle Under Lyme where he was later discovered near to his vehicle with burns to his head, face and hands.

The court was told that Mohammed, who later said he had desperate and had no money, did not deny killing his children but his defence was based on him suffering from an abnormality of the mind at the time of the offences.

(Proceeding)

source: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/

‘Uber drivers fleeced app out of £10,000 using stolen credit cards’

The Evening Standard reports that five Uber drivers fleeced the ride-hailing app out of £10,000 by taking bookings for rides paid for with stolen credit cards, a court heard.

Onome Omonoseh, 19, coordinated the “sophisticated” scam by setting up fake customer accounts to book lengthy journeys, racking up large bills which were charged to stolen credit cards.

Drivers Michael Julien, 50, Dan-Alexandru Pasat, 29, Kamlesh Sagoo, 62, Ibrahim Tekagac, 35, and Mihai Toader, 32, collected the hefty fees, and paid Omonoseh in cash for his part in the scam.

Southwark crown court heard Uber lost up to £10,000 to the fraud between February and December last year.

Omonoseh, the “coordinator”, is only thought to have made £1,760 despite playing a leading role.

“Mr Omonoseh was the main instigator of the frauds against Uber – creating bogus Uber customer accounts on the app and making bogus trips for which drivers were paid,” said prosecutor Stephen Requena.

“The details were taken from a website which sells credit card for fraudulent and criminal purposes.

“GPS location showed the mobile phone handset did not always travel with the drivers and in effect the fraud by Mr Omonoseh and the co-defendants was in collaboration.”

Judge Peter Ader, sentencing, said: “This was a sophisticated operation that took place over a period of time to defraud Uber of their commission and their fee. Each of of you played a part in this operation.”

He sentenced Omonoseh to eight months in a Young Offenders’ Institution and jailed Julien, who was involved in 17 fraudulent trips, for eight months.

Pasat, Tekagac, and Toader were each given six-month prison sentences suspended for 18 months and ordered to pay £500 compensation each to Uber.

Sagoo, who made the least amount of money from the scam, was given a four-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months, and was told to pay Uber £486 in compensation.

Omonoseh, from Islington; Julien, from Southwark; Pasat, from Ilford; Sagoo, of Neasden; Tekagac, from Enfield; and Toader, from Stevenage, Herts, admitted fraud by false representation.

source: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/uber-drivers-fleeced-app-out-of-10000-using-stolen-credit-cards-a3678121.html

Wolverhampton Council gave licence to taxi fraudster

Wolverhampton Council have given a taxi licence to a driver successfully prosecuted for fraud by a neighbouring local authority, it has been revealed.

Officials ignored a warning that the driver broke the terms of the licence granted to him by Sandwell Council by working out of the area covered by the badge, the city’s Crown Court was told.

Several other drivers caught in the same purge and dealt with at a magistrates court were also given licences by Wolverhampton City Council, it was claimed.

Aklilu Tedros pleaded guilty to fraud and received a four month prison sentence suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to do 80 hours unpaid work and pay £800 towards the cost of the case after he elected trial but admitted the offence on the day the hearing was due to start.

The 37-year-old father of four from Eritrea was given a private hire taxi licence after applying to Sandwell Council in March 2015. The local authority – like Birmingham but unlike Wolverhampton – only gives licences to those based and working in the borough.

Tedros, from Gregory Avenue, Weoley Castle, confirmed he would be doing this and gave the name of the local firm he would be working for. Hours after getting the licence he joined a Birmingham taxi company and took his first job.

“He never worked for the taxi company he named in Sandwell and was never going to, ” said Mr Mark Jackson, prosecuting. He explained there was far more work for drivers in Birmingham but the Knowledge test was easier to pass in the smaller, neighbouring borough of Sandwell. Mr Jackson continued: “He never learnt the Birmingham Knowledge and was not subject to Birmingham licensing restrictions.”

The defendant was caught in a crack down by enforcement officers who discovered his licence did not allow him to work in Birmingham. Sandwell were alerted and launched an investigation.

He handed in their badge but was then given a licence by Wolverhampton City Council. Mr Jackson disclosed: “They were told of his breach but that did not seem to matter.”

Mr Richard Davenport, defending, conceded: “He knew what he was doing was fraudulent but he did it because he knew others were doing the same thing. It is very difficult to say how much money he made from the fraud.”

Tedros was told by Judge James Burbidge QC: “You have committed a serious crime. You are a resourceful man who escaped from your country of birth because of the persecution of Evangelical Christians. This was a deliberate fraud and it may be that people around you were committing the same fraud.”

Wolverhampton council has vastly increased the amount of money it receives from the issue of private hire licences after deciding to grant them to drivers working both inside and outside the borough. Critics have claimed the facility is being used as a ‘cash cow’ – a suggestion denied by council officials.

The local authority made over £1.2 million handing out private hire licences in the last year after netting £416,070 during the previous 12 months. In the year 2012/13 it granted just over 600 private hire licences. This figure rose to almost 3,000 last year.

A spokesman for Wolverhampton Council said: “When Mr Tedros applied for his licence with us, we were notified by Sandwell Council that there was a court case pending against him. In accordance with our procedures, We concluded that the allegation posed no imminent risk to public safety and the licence was granted. We have received no complaints about Mr Tedros in the 12 months since he got his licence. We have kept a close eye on the court proceedings and N

“Now that he has been convicted of the offence it will automatically trigger a licence review.”

A fraud conviction would ordinarily result in a licence being revoked, however each case is judged on its specific circumstances and we cannot predetermine what the outcome will be here.”

source: https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/wolverhampton/2017/11/07/wolverhampton-council-gave-licence-to-taxi-fraudster-court-told/

 

Brighton Extends Uber Licence

Brighton Council press release. 

Following a meeting on 31 October, Brighton & Hove City Council has extended Uber’s licence to operate a taxi service in the city for a further six months.

The decision on the length of the extension was taken to allow the council to monitor the outcome of the Transport for London Uber decision, to allow the council to consider whether any of the information arising from the case had direct implications for the operation in the city. It also allows the council more time to negotiate with Uber about a number of proposed conditions for operating in the city.

In making the decision, officers studied reports and written submissions from interested parties. While there was no evidence to suggest that public safety had been compromised, there are a number of concerns, and Uber are working with the council to address these and reassure residents and visitors about their safety.

Under national law, licensed drivers can operate anywhere in the country, so drivers licensed elsewhere are allowed to operate in the city. Many authorities have fewer conditions attached to their licensing than is the case here.

When licensing operators, Brighton & Hove City Council work with them to maintain and enhance standards of safety, which includes trying to ensure that drivers not licenced locally can be as accountable as possible. We’re working with Uber to ensure safety standards are maintained and address the challenges brought about by technological changes.

All Brighton & Hove private hire and Hackney Carriage drivers in the city operate under the same licences and the same guidelines contained in the Blue Book, whichever company they drive for. Likewise, all drivers undergo the same background checks.

Following the council’s standard procedure for renewing taxi operators’ license renewals, the decision was taken by officers under delegated authority. A decision on the process to look at the license at the end of this six month period will be taken in the new year.

Lawyers claim Gloucester taxi driver made half a million pounds from his drug dealing

A judge has ordered he pay back £353,800 – or spend an extra 30months in jail

A Gloucester taxi driver serving a long jail term for dealing in cocaine must hand over more than a quarter of a million pounds of his ill gotten gains – or spend an extra two and a half years in prison, a judge ruled today.

At Gloucester crown court Judge Michael Cullum ruled 39-year-old Trishul Rambaran’s criminal benefit from drug dealing was £353,800.

The judge declared Rambaran, of Tuffley Lane, Gloucester, has total assets of £260,762-22 which can be confiscated from him under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

He ordered that the money is paid within six months or Rambaran will have to serve a further 30 months imprisonment in default.

Rambaran, who received a total sentence of 6yrs 4 months last December after he admitted four offences of drug supply and two of money laundering, argued against the confiscation order and maintained it should not be so high.

He told the court he was a ‘respectable man’ and ‘not a bad man.’

And he asked for more time to get legal advice and prepare his argument against the order.

But the judge said he had already had more than enough time and had failed throughout the procedure to comply with court directions.

“There has been a continued lack of obedience to any court order and there has been nothing supplied by the defendant,” said the judge.

Throughout the confiscation hearing yesterday and today the judge had to tell Rambaran repeatedly not to keep interrupting the proceedings.

At one point yesterday, when Rambaran appeared via video link from prison, the judge silenced his microphone so he could not be heard.

Today Rambaran was in court in person and at one point the judge warned him he would send him down to the cells if he did not stop intervening.

The prosecution suggested Rambaran’s criminal benefit was £499,000 but the judge reduced that figure to £353,800.

Prosecutor Edward Hetherington said the assets comprised Rambaran’s house, a share of his late mother’s estate, a VW vehicle and small amounts of money in four bank accounts.

At last year’s sentencing hearing the court was told that Rambaran, who ran a website selling ‘legal highs’ was also selling cocaine which he mixed in with other drugs.

He pleaded guilty to four offences of possessing drugs with intent to supply on 17th March last year and two of money laundering between April 2010 and April 2016.

One of the money laundering charges concerned him using criminally obtained cash to buy his house in Tuffley Lane. The other stated that he had acquired more than £200,000 knowing it was criminal property.

Prosecutor Ed Hetherington said police uncovered Rambaran’s activities when officers on patrol on 17th March saw him driving a VW in Tuffley Avenue and followed him to the Tesco store in Bristol road.

There, he was seen to walk over to a Vauxhall Astra and then back to his car. He was stopped and searched and told the officers he sold legal highs.

Some white powder found in his car was later analysed and found to contain Class B and C illegal drugs.

A search was then carried out at his home and 717 grams of cocaine at 5percent purity and another 57g at just 1 percent was found.

source: http://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/

Minicab driver jailed after groping 4 female passengers

A minicab driver who groped four female passengers in three incidents over a four year period has been jailed for 24 months.

Hussain Rahman, who is religious with a ‘deep faith’, abused his position as a cabbie to prey on drunk women as he drove them home in his cab at night.

And on the final occasion the 51-year-old picked on a woman who was not drunk, making obscene, suggestive, comments to her as he stroked her leg.

Rahman, of Lansbury Drive, Upper Stratton, pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault but was convicted by a jury following a trial at Swindon Crown Court.

He first targeted one of his fares after picking up three friends who had been out on the town in November 2012.

The 18-year-old victim, who he had seen being sick, got in the front while her two drunken pals were arguing in the back, leaving them unaware of what he was up to.

Rahman put his hand on her chest, squeezing her breast over her clothing, leaving the teenager traumatised for years.

Just over two years later, in January 2015, he was driving two women home after they had also been drinking heavily, one so much so that she could recall nothing.

The defendant put his hand inside her trousers and touched her friend’s breast under her clothing as the victims were trapped in the cab.

His final victim, who has worked in the past as a carer, was picked up in the early hours of Saturday August 6 last year from a friend’s house.

Soon after pulling away he said ‘You need a man with a big penis’ as he rubbed her thigh close to her groin area.

The woman, who had only had a couple of beers, said she was repeatedly pushing him away and would have told him to stop the car and let her out were it not the early hours of the morning.

Colin Meeke, prosecuting, said all four of the women had suffered as a result of the ordeals they had been put through.

Referring to their victim personal statements he said one told how she could not use public transport, let alone minicabs, as a result of her ordeal.

Another said she had been a victim of a sex attack in the past and feared he was going to be taken away and raped.

A third spoke of how she was horrified to have been accused by him of being racist and damaging his car, when in reality she was the victim.

James Tucker, defending, said that his client had been regarded as a low risk of reoffending and would never be able to work as a minicab driver again.

Although the case passed the custody threshold he urged any jail term to be suspended saying he has diabetes and had done a good job raising his family.

Jailing him for two years Judge Robert Pawson said “You are now 51 years old. You are a religious man with a strong faith.

“Over the course of four years or so when you were working as a mini cab driver you used your position and the vulnerability of drunk women out late at night to sexually assault them.

“You as a minicab driver driving members of the public around at night are in a relationship, an ad hoc relationship it may be, of trust to your fares whether there is one of them, two of them or three of them: but particularly when one.

“I have considered you case very, very, carefully but it seems to me given all the circumstances it would be quite wrong of me to suspend the sentence.”

As a result of the two year jail term he will have to register as a sex offender for the next 10 years.

Source: Swindon Advertiser

Drugs, cherry picking and driving without insurance – hundreds snared in taxi driver crackdown

Hundreds of taxi and private hire drivers have been snared for offences including drugs, driving without insurance and “cherry picking” passengers.

A major clampdown by Liverpool City Council has seen scores of cautions and defect notices handed to private hire and hackney drivers in a bid to improve standards

Two drivers have been taken off the road altogether for drug offences.

The action follows an ECHO investigation earlier this year which exposed a huge range of offences being committed by drivers in the city centre.

We went out with hackney drivers and private hire drivers and found issues relating to both sides of the trade.

Working with Merseyside Police, council officers have identified hundreds of drivers from Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley and Wirral who were committing a wide range of offences while working in the city.

The most serious cases have seen two drivers – one private hire and one hackney – having their licences revoked for drug related offences.

At Liverpool Magistrates Court this week, 14 drivers were fined a total of £4,655 – for offences including tyre defects, trying to pick up passengers who had not booked and driving without insurance.

In addition, 118 vehicle defect notices and 57 cautions have been issued for offences such as cherry picking – where cab drivers opt not to pick people up despite having an empty vehicle and their light on – as well as having an illegal tyres and not having their plates firmly fixed on – while a further seven vehicles were ordered off the road immediately.

And 160 fixed penalty notices have been issued to the drivers of private cars who parked illegally on taxi stands, taking up space meant for hackneys.

Councillor Christine Banks, chair of the council’s licensing committee, said: “We want to make sure that our taxi industry is fair, and we are determined to crack down on those drivers who are flouting the rules.

“Our aim is to make the playing field for all drivers as level as it can be.

“Unfortunately, there are a very small minority who breach regulations, and we are committed to taking action and in doing so, send a clear message out that it is not acceptable.

source: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/