Taxi driver in court for four-mile detour on four-mile journey

A taxi driver took a passenger wanting to travel on a four-mile journey in the Black Country on a detour to Birmingham – costing them twice the fare, a court heard.

Talbraiz Ali, 35, was asked by his customer to go from Cape Hill in Smethwick to Sandwell and Dudley railway station.

But instead, Ali, who was working for 247 Cars and had only been a taxi driver for 28 days, took the passenger to Harborne and then charged £15 for the trip – over double the expected fare of £7.

Ali, of Minstead Road, Erdington, pleaded guilty to a charge of unnecessary prolonging of a journey by hackney carriage at Sandwell Magistrates Court yesterday.

Mr David Elliot, prosecuting on behalf of Sandwell Council, explained that a man called for a taxi from 247 Cars from the McDonald’s at Cape Hill, Smethwick, which arrived driven by Ali five minutes later on December 9.

Asking to be taken to Sandwell and Dudley Railway Station the passenger was surprised when, instead of turning right as expected, Ali turned left towards Birmingham instead.

“He asked the driver where he was going, who said that he wanted to avoid the traffic. The passenger asked him to turn around, and he took a right,” said Mr Elliot.

However Ali proceeded to take more and more of a diversion, repeatedly ending up on the Hagley Road, and also driving through Harborne High Street at one point.

Eventually the taxi driver succeeded in getting to the railway station and the passenger was charged £15 for the trip.

Apart from the initial remarks, there was no conversation between the pair during the longer than expected journey, and the passenger also noted that there was no sat nav.

The court was told that Ali had only started driving a taxi in Sandwell in November 2015.

Mr Elliot added that it would be up to the council’s licensing committee to determine to what extent they would penalise Ali, whether that be a warning or losing his license in the borough.

Representing Ali, Mr Michael Wooldridge said: “This is an unfortunate matter, and so odd that it defies any logical explanation.”

Mr Wooldridge stressed that his client had only been a taxi driver for 28 days, and that this was his second job, with his main employment being at a factory.

Mr Wooldridge added: “He took a wrong turn at the start and it all went from there. It is not a case where he has deliberately gone around the houses.”

He also highlighted that Ali had limited English.

Ali received a 12 month conditional discharge and was also ordered to pay costs of £250 and a victim surcharge of £15.

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