‘Despicable’ taxi driver banned from driving after blaming wife for his traffic offence

A ‘despicable’ taxi driver has been banned from driving for 18 months after attempting to pervert the course of justice by blaming his wife for his own traffic offence.

Ibrar Suleman’s Mercedes taxi was seen driving through a red light in Sheffield in February.

Suleman eventually responded to letters and emails about the incident to claim that his wife had been the driver at the time – but an investigation found he had been working that day and had accepted a job around 40 minutes before the incident.

Both Suleman and his wife were arrested, with the taxi driver eventually pleading guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice. Suleman, aged 40 and of Infirmary Road, Chesterfield, was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for 12 months, ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and disqualified from driving for 18 months.Judge

Recorder Anthony Kelbrick told the defendant:

“It is despicable that a man should drag his wife into his own offending, blame her, have her arrested, taken to the police station and interviewed for a criminal offence.

“You should be utterly and thoroughly ashamed of yourself.

“You should have better respect for your wife.”

Read more at: http://www.thestar.co.uk/

Fined: Old Trafford football fan taken for a ride by overcharging taxi driver

The football fan was travelling back to Manchester Airport after the game at Old Trafford

A TAXI driver has been ordered to fork out almost £600 after duping a football fan into paying double fare from Old Trafford to Manchester Airport – which he had claimed was the passenger’s idea.

Hackney carriage driver Farzin Kheshvari has been convicted of overcharging a customer he picked up earlier this year.

The victim, a football fan, had travelled with his son to watch Manchester United versus Arsenal back in February and hailed a cab to head back to Manchester Airport after the match.

Kheshvari refused to put the fare on his meter but instead insisted on a fixed fee of £35 upfront for the journey. If 8.3 mile journey had been on the meter, it would have cost approximately £19.

The passenger felt he had been taken advantage of and lodged a complaint with Trafford Council. Kheshvari initially refutes the claims, maintaining that it was the passenger who had insisted on paying £35 for the journey.

Kheshvari pleaded guilty at Manchester and Salford Magistrates on October 7. He was fined £80 for failing to engage the taxi meter, £40 for charging more than the metered fare, ordered to pay costs of £453 and a victim surcharge of £20.

Cllr John Reilly, executive member for economic growth, environment and infrastructure, said: “This conviction reinforces the Council’s commitment to protect members of the public. The general public should be able to trust taxi drivers to comply with the rules and regulations and not to take advantage of them.

“The council has adopted byelaws that compel hackney carriage drivers to put fares on the meter when the destination is within the Trafford area or within four miles of the Trafford boundary, as is the case with the airport.

“The council investigates all complaints against licensed drivers, whether they are private hire or hackney carriage drivers, and will continue to enforce against those abusing their position of trust.”

Kheshvari will now be referred to the council’s licensing sub-committee and may face further sanction.

Anyone wishing to lodge a complaint against a Trafford licensed vehicle are asked to email the licensing team on licensing@trafford.gov.uk.

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

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.

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

Cambridgeshire taxi firms slam council delays in granting licenses

Taxi firms claim they are missing out on dozens of potential jobs a day – as the council delays applications by up to two months.

South Cambs Taxis Ltd (SCT), based in Sawston, says that delays in setting up appointments with South Cambridgeshire District Council are ‘damaging’ small businesses.

Prospective drivers have been forced to look elsewhere for employment, unable to wait more than eight weeks to find a job.
The council claims that the delays are because of an ‘increase in applications’.

“Turning away jobs”

Neil Payne, managing director of SCT, said: “We applied for a driver today to go and have put in his paperwork at South Cambs council, but couldn’t get an appointment until mid November.

“The appointment system seems to have got worse in the last month and I’ve struggled for a few years trying to find good drivers. I’m having to turn away minimum 20 jobs a day.

“Cambridge and the surrounding areas are growing so much. There’s a need for drivers. But small businesses like myself are struggling.”

To become a taxi driver first requires a DSA driving test, for which an appointment can take up to six weeks.

After they pass their test, drivers have to submit their application forms, as well as take a medical which is signed and stamped by a doctor. This now takes up to eight weeks.

Drivers then have to apply for a DBS check, which takes up to six weeks, before they can fully register to become drivers for taxi companies.

“Any drivers that are coming along now to support us over the Christmas period are not going to get a license before January,” said Mr Payne.

“It’s just red tape all the way. I’m just turning more work away than I can take because I haven’t got drivers.

“Yes they’ve got to do their checks, yes they’ve got to be correct and the drivers have to have clean records, but all the government bodies are slowing it all down.”

Interested drivers delayed

Cambridge City Taxis (CCT) is another company struggling to find drivers.

The service currently has 49 drivers but recognise that they need more to respond to the growing need in Cambridge.

David Wratten, managing director of CCT, said: “It just seems there must be another way to get round this and to get the paperwork in earlier.

“It needs to change. It’s got more difficult. I’ve had three people who’ve been interested in coming to work but they’ve been delayed in trying to get the process finished.”

“Checks are important”

A South Cambridgeshire District Council spokesman said: “An increase in the number of taxi licence applications we have received recently has meant that it has been taking us longer than we would have liked to sit down with applicants.

“We are sorry for the delays during this time but are pleased to be able to confirm that we have worked through most of the backlog and nearly all new applicants are now being sat down with within two weeks.

“New online systems we have put in place for DBS checks, formally known as CRB checks, as well as checks we need to carry out with the DVLA, have also seen the time it takes to process the applications fall by more than half.

“Clearly the checks are very important to make sure only suitable drivers are licensed.”

Read more at http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/

South Tyneside Council bosses asked to close taxi licence loopholes after incidents

Council bosses in South Tyneside are being asked to close loopholes in taxi licensing laws.

They will be told next week that a man who drove his car through a barrier to confront council staff after they twice refused to give him a taxi licence now has permission to drive minibuses.

David Cramond Another driver who had his licence taxi revoked after he used booking records to inappropriately contact two women is allowed to drive larger vehicles for the same firm.

Both cases are evidence of a discrepancy in licensing laws, a report claims. In a report to South Tyneside Council’s licensing committee, the authority’s economic regeneration director David Cramond said the system for issuing licences to taxi drivers – hackney carriages of up to eight-seats – is different to that for drivers of nine-to-16-seat vehicles known as Public Carriage Vehicles (PCVs).

He said to get a hackney carriage licence, drivers must produce an up to date criminal records check and can be refused a licence if they have convictions or cautions which the authority believe “renders the driver a risk to the public”.

But PCV drivers, Mr Cramond says are subject to such checks.

He said: “The applicant is asked to sign a self-declaration and, if they declare that they have no previous convictions, a licence will be granted with no further checks.” His report cited a driver who got a PCV licence and applied to drive school children despite a North East council revoking his taxi licence in 2014 after he was convicted of harassment and was accused of harassing and having inappropriate conduct with a child.

Mr Cramond said: “It is important to point out that the majority of PCV drivers are likely to fit into the category of ‘fit and proper’. “This report is intended to highlight concerns surrounding an opportunity available to unscrupulous persons wishing to exploit an opportunity which enables them to work in close proximity to the general public some of who will be vulnerable.”

Mr Cramond added: “The North East strategic licensing group which represents the 12 licensing authorities in the North East believes that this is an outdated view which no longer reflects reality.

“Larger minibuses, driven by PCV drivers, are now regularly hired out by taxi companies and are often used to transport groups, or individuals, in exactly the same way as a taxi. “Even when transporting a group of passengers, it would be common for a lone individual to be picked up first or dropped off last.

“It is essential that the public receive the same level of protection regardless of whether they are using an eight-seater taxi or a nine or more seat minibus.

”The council’s licensing committee will discuss the report at their meeting next Friday.

Read more at: http://www.shieldsgazette.com/

Black taxi drivers march in protest over minicab medical tests

Around 100 cab drivers marched in protest today at TfL’s lack of medical regulation of mini cab drivers.

Black cab drivers staged a demonstration in Southwark after learning of allegations minicab drivers are allegedly using loopholes to pass medicals.

An independent investigation revealed mini cab drivers were able to pay certain doctors for a medical pass.

London Drivers Club chairman Grant Davis said that TfL was putting public safety at risk. He said: “today is about raising the profile of what’s going on, it’s not cab drivers moaning about Uber.

“TfL has got a duty to protect the public and they’re not doing that.”

Mr Davis added that he had spoken to TfL after the investigation who had told him the problem could take three years to fix.

He added: “They told us it’s a GMC problem.

“They said the only way around it was to wait for three years until the driver’s need to have their medicals again. “It’s not good enough.”

Cab drivers with placards lined both sides of the street to demonstrate over what they thought to be a lack of regulation.

Black cab driver Kevin O’Connor called on TfL to launch a public enquiry. He said: “It’s the world of health and safety so how are they getting away with it.”

Black cab drivers must take a medical exam at their registered GP every three years, costing £150 a time.

Dennis Saunders, who has been a London cab driver for more than 20 years, said: “we don’t go into this job thinking we’ll be millionaires.

“All we want to do is provide an honest living for our families.

“Soon Uber will have full control of the market, then they won’t be cheap.

“We’re the heart and soul of the city and we’re the eyes and ears.”

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

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.

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

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.”

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

Mum of girl injured in horror smash ‘furious’ that private-hire driver is back on the roads

The mother of a little girl who was left brain damaged after a crash with a private-hire says she’s “absolutely furious” that the driver is back in the profession.

Jessica Bootes was just four when she was seriously injured in a horror road crash on the A194 near Lindisfarne Roundabout, in Jarrow in March 2014.

Parents Lisa and Chris Bootes Newcastle s RVI with daughter Jessica, after her accident at age four.

The youngster, now seven, spent 11 days in a coma and had to have the left side of her skull removed, and suffered paralysis down the right side after the five-car collision.

Private-hire driver Amir Azad, of Lilac Road, South Shields, smashed into the back of the family car while they were stopped at traffic lights and was fined £250 and given six penalty points at South Tyneside Magistrates Court.

South Tyneside Council later revoked his private-hire license, but he has now secured one with Newcastle City Council and is working as a private-hire driver.

Jessica’s mum, Lisa, from Harton, South Shields, said: “I’m absolutely furious. A court deemed him unfit to drive on the roads in South Tyneside so how can he go to Newcastle and get a licence?

“This man gets to walk about every day and get on with his life when he ruined my family’s lives.”She added: “She can’t cope with being in a car for more than 10 minutes.

She doesn’t feel safe. I get panic attacks too and can’t drive long distances.

“I’m going to fight this. I don’t care what I’ve got to do or how long it takes.”

A Newcastle City Council spokesman said: “

A private hire driver’s licence application was considered and granted by the council on November 2015.

“All applications for a private hire licence must follow a robust legal framework and are considered by committee in accordance with guidelines issued by the Department for Transport and Home Office.

“Every application is subject to a rigorous checking process and is carefully considered. Convictions, cautions and driving licence endorsements are all taken into account and we rely on the Disclosure & Barring Service and DVLA vetting procedures together with advice from Northumbria Police.

Mr Azad refused to comment when he was contacted by the Gazette.

Read more at: http://www.shieldsgazette.com/

Uber driver dragged her out of his car because she ‘wasn’t talking properly’

A cancer survivor whose illness left her with a speech impediment claims an Uber driver dragged her out of his cab because she ‘wasn’t talking properly’.

Sam Barbic, who has a hole in her neck, said the driver screamed at her and grabbed her arm to pull her from his vehicle outside her home in London.

The 45-year-old said she was then charged £5 for the cancelled journey, leaving her ‘baffled’ and ‘horrified’ by the experience, which Uber has pledged to investigate.

Sam Barbic said the driver screamed at her and grabbed her arm to pull her from his vehicle outside her home in London

The operation – a laryngectomy – saw her voice box removed, meaning she now speaks softly, with long pauses, by pressing against the hole in her airway.

Sam, 45, from Kensal Rise, said: ‘I got the standard Uber text saying he had arrived, so I went downstairs to find him. I walked round the corner and saw the car but he drove off.

‘So I called him – the first thing I always say is that I have had an operation, please bear with me.

‘I have had a total laryngectomy from throat cancer so my voice is faint with lots of pauses and very gravelly.

‘He kept saying he couldn’t hear me and hanging up. I rang him three times asking him to come back and pick me up.’

Sam was diagnosed with cancer five years ago and had her entire throat removed and replaced with parts of her intestine

Sam then saw there was a function on Uber to text the driver so messaged him explaining she had had a throat operation and could he come back to pick me up.

She added: ‘I then got in the car and asked him why he had driven off. He immediately said: “Get out of the car, I’m not driving you”.

‘I was stunned. I asked what the problem was and explained I had had throat cancer and that was why my voice was funny.

‘He just kept saying: “Get out the car, get out of the car now”. The more I tried to explain to him the more he insisted I get out.

‘He then got out of the car and opened the passenger door screaming at me to get out. I went to get out of the car and he took hold of my arm to ensure I got out of the car.

‘He then drove straight off leaving me standing there. I was in a terrible state, in shock, horrified at how I’d been treated and baffled as to why.

‘I no longer breathe through my nose or mouth and have a hole in my neck where I breathe. I wear a plaster over this so it is very clear to anyone I have had surgery.

‘I used to wear a scarf but I find people respond better when they can see I have a problem than when I try to hide it.’

Sam said: ‘The only thing I was thankful for was that I was outside my flat and not stranded in the middle of nowhere trying to get home.

‘I emailed Uber a complaint about him and got an automated reply saying the matter was resolved. They also charged me £5 for cancelling the fare.

‘They have since called me saying they are extremely concerned about the incident but I missed the call. When I tried to call back, I couldn’t get through.

‘I had extensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy but was told my only option for survival was a total laryngectomy.

‘This involved removing my entire throat and building me a new throat with my intestine.

Sam, who works as a set designer, was hoping to travel to Covent Garden to meet a friend when the incident allegedly occurred at around 6.45pm on Thursday

‘My voice box was removed as part of the surgery and I spent one year unable to speak at all, but following further surgery had a small valve installed which enabled me to talk.

‘In order to speak I have to press the hole in my neck to block the airway and send air into my mouth so I can make sounds.

‘My speech is understandable but takes a bit of time to get used to as I have to pause for breath a lot.

‘It’s not very loud and I’ve been told I sound a bit like Darth Vader, but I’m hardly threatening. I’m a short middle-aged woman.’

An Uber spokesman said: ‘We would like to extend our sincerest apologies to Sam. We’re looking into this as a matter of urgency.

‘We’re waiting to speak to all parties so we can fully investigate this incident and take the appropriate action.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/