Court hears litany of complaints in ‘truly hopeless appeal’
A LONG-serving taxi driver has been exposed as a ‘lying cheat’ who swindled or stole from his customers and drove dangerously.
Well-known Newbury driver Mohamed Khaled was branded “unscrupulous, devious and dishonest” at Reading Crown Court.
In refusing Mr Khaled’s “truly hopeless appeal” against refusal of a new licence, Judge Stephen John gave a damning assessment of the 46-year-old’s character before telling him: “You have sought to deceive us. You haven’t succeeded.”
Judge John added: “The only thing that surprised us about [West Berkshire Council’s] approach, bearing in mind the litany of complaints, is that they didn’t take action to revoke your licence years before.”
In seeking to explain away more than 30 complaints from customers, police officers and colleagues, the court heard, Mr Khaled invented a conspiracy in which he sought to smear Pc Pete Sutherland and fellow taxi driver Bill Annetts.
The judge dismissed Mr Khaled’s claims as “malicious and gratuitous”.
During the day-long hearing, Stuart Jessop, for the council, outlined some of the complaints lodged against Mr Khaled over 12 years, including:
- Possession of the drug ketamine.
- Multiple incidents of dangerous driving.
- Assaulting a woman passenger.
- Abusive and threatening behaviour.
- Fiddling the meter.
Mr Jessop said: “I’m not going to outline them all.”
Instead he focused on one incident in Newbury town centre in which Mr Khaled – “who has several aliases and whose street name is Egyptian Tony” – intervened in an arrest.
Several police officers described how, as they struggled to arrest violent, drunken suspects in Market Place on a Saturday night, Mr Khaled leaped from his cab, swore at the officers and tried to free the offenders.
Officers said they repeatedly had to push Mr Khaled away as they tried to contain the ugly situation.
Others spoke of witnessing him illegally touting for business from passers by or talking on his mobile phone while driving at speed through the busy Market Place.
Mr Jessop said Mr Khaled thought he was above the law, allowed passengers to smoke in his vehicle and repeatedly failed to display his licence and badge.
On other occasions, the court heard, he deliberately cheated customers, assaulted a woman and stole from unsuspecting passengers.
Mr Jessop concluded: “There is an abundance of evidence that he is not a fit and proper person to hold a licence… he put public safety at risk with a flagrant disregard for rules and regulations.
“He has shown total disrespect for authority and makes wild and malicious accusations that are without foundation.
“If anything the local authority has been exceedingly lenient with him.”
Eventually, the court heard, his taxi licence was revoked by West Berkshire Council but in July 2015 he reapplied.
His request was refused and, when he appealed the decision to Reading magistrates in January, they upheld the refusal.
Mr Khaled then appealed to the crown court.
From the witness stand on Friday, he portrayed himself as the innocent victim of a conspiracy masterminded by Newbury officer Pc Sutherland.
He claimed it stemmed from occasions when the officer was drunk and had been refused a ride by Mr Khaled.
In addition, he claimed fellow taxi driver Mr Annetts was a co-conspirator who had removed his licence display then photographed the empty space before passing the supposedly fabricated evidence to the council.
Members of the public who complained were either lying or mistaken, claimed Mr Khaled.
In refusing the appeal, Judge John described Mr Khaled’s behaviour as “hugely reprehensible” and said that, as a witness he had been “evasive, argumentative, unco-operative and belligerent”, adding “and that chimes with the way he has been shown to behave towards others”.
Ordering Mr Khaled to pay a total of £6,770 costs for both failed appeals, Judge John said the slurs on Pc Sutherland and Mr Annetts had been “gratuitous… indefensible,” adding: “This was a truly hopeless appeal. There never was any basis for it. It is wholly without merit and it is therefore dismissed.”
Finally, Mr Khaled was ordered to pay the £6,770 combined costs of both appeal hearings.