Gang who flooded city with heroin and cocaine via TAXI are jailed for 68 years

Waqar Ahmed

The six-man gang’s leaders Dhiren Lad, 34, and Mohammed Taymure Khan, 33, have now been sentenced to 12 years and 13 years 8 months behind bars respectively

The group, from Bolton, also dealt in large amounts cannabis and amphetamine before they were snared by police.

The Manchester Evening News reports that leaders Dhiren Lad, 34, and Mohammed Taymure Khan, 33, have now been sentenced to 12 years and 13 years 8 months behind bars respectively.

Between September 2014 and August 2015 Waqar Ahmed, used his job as a taxi driver as a cover for him to deliver drugs all over the country.

They were delivered to suppliers for sale on the streets of towns across the North West.

Mark Samuels was also involved in the storing and transporting of the drugs whilst Naheem Aslam and Ricky Parmar, both 34, also had leading roles in the organisation of the deals.

In September 2015, all six were arrested after a series of raids by Lancashire Police.

And they were charged a complex investigation which involved hundreds of pages of evidence, including calls and text messages, gathered by officers being analysed by CPS prosecutors.

All six men pleaded to one count of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and one count of conspiracy to supply class B drugs except Ahmed, who was convicted of both offences after a trial.

Lad, of Stanley Road, Radcliffe, was sentenced to 12 years behind bars.

Khan, 33, of Hilden Street, Bolton, Aslam, 34, of Crescent Road, Great Lever and Parmar, of Rowton Street, Hall I’ Th’ Wood were all jailed for 13 years and eight months.

Ahmed, of no fixed abode, was jailed for nine years.

Samuels, 42, of of Prestwood Close, Bolton. was sentenced to six years.

Ben Southam, Deputy Head of the CPS North West Complex Casework Unit, said: “This was an extremely complex case because of the sort of evidence that we were looking at.

“There was a huge amount of material to consider, including the analysis of hundreds of calls and texts between the members of the gang as they carried out drugs operations.

“Together with police and prosecuting counsel we built a strong and compelling case that each of these defendants had played a part in the plans to supply drugs in towns and cities in the North West and elsewhere in the country.

“The weight and detail of the evidence against them persuaded most of them to plead guilty.

“Through this prosecution and the sentences we have removed a substantial source of heroin, cocaine, cannabis and amphetamines that were being supplied in local communities.

“We are determined to continue working with our police colleagues to disrupt the operations of drug dealers in the North West and to prosecute them through the courts.”

The CPS will now seek to confiscate the criminal assets of four of the men – Dhiren Lad, Mohammed Khan, Naheem Aslam and Ricky Parmar – under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

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

Should West Suffolk taxi drivers complete course before getting licence?

The West Suffolk councils are asking people to give their views on whether current and future taxi drivers should have a qualification before being given a licence.

The one being considered is a City and Guilds-recognised BTEC level two which would take around 18 hours to complete.

It would cover issues relating to taxis and private hire vehicles such as health and safety, road safety, customer service, vehicle maintenance, disability awareness and assistance, fares, carrying of luggage and transporting of children and vulnerable people.

Drivers applying for a licence would initially be able to complete the course at West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds, with other locations potentially being introduced later.

The West Suffolk cabinet members responsible for licensing, Cllr Alaric Pugh and Cllr Lance Stanbury, both support the requirement for a qualification.

In a joint statement, they said:

“Other areas across the country already insist on taxi and private hire drivers being able to demonstrate they understand not just laws relating to driving, but other issues which affect the safety and wellbeing of their passengers.

“They are often in a position where they can spot something unusual or potentially illegal happening, such as human trafficking, for example.

“Learning what to look out for and what to do, especially when it comes to keeping passengers safe, seems to us to be a sensible idea and we would like to know what drivers and passengers think.”

The consultation takes less than five minutes to complete and will run until August 31.

It is available online at www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/consultations and printed copies are available by calling 01284 763233 or 01638 719000.

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

Barrow taxi drivers banned from wearing hoodies or baseball caps

BARROW taxi drivers have been warned they could be sent home if council officers catch them wearing inappropriate clothes while on duty.

Barrow Borough Council’s licensing department is understood to be planning to enforce rules surrounding professional standards of taxi drivers working across Barrow, Dalton, Askam and Walney.

The Evening Mail understands council officers have confirmed they will begin enforcing a no smoking policy in taxis and a dress code while on duty.

TAXI DRIVERS’ DRESS CODE

Barrow Borough Council’s dress code for taxi drivers states: The Authority is committed to encouraging the professional image of the trade and it considers that drivers should conform to a minimum standard of dress, as set out below, in order to raise and maintain the profile of the licensed trade.

Whilst the Authority does not wish to impose such standards by way of conditions to any licence it expects, however, that such standards will be maintained at all times.

Acceptable Standards of Dress within this code:

Tops, shirts, blouses, T-shirts, or sweat tops should cover the shoulders and be capable of being worn inside trousers or shorts. Shirts or blouses can be worn with a tie or open necked. Trousers/Shorts/Skirts Trousers may be either full length or shorts if tailored. Short skirts should not be worn. Smart jean type trousers permitted.

Footwear

Footwear should fit around the heel of feet.

Examples of Unacceptable Standards of Dress within this code:

Bare chests Unclean or damaged clothing or footwear Clothing with offensive words, logos or graphics Sportswear promoting sports teams Clothing with studs or sharp edges Beach type footwear (e.g. Flip flops and mules) Baseball caps, “hoodies”,or “woolly hats” Tracksuits or shellsuits.

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

Hazzard announces immediate review of taxi legislation

Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard has announced that a full and comprehensive review of the current taxi legislation is set to get underway.

The Minister took the opportunity to make the announcement at his first meeting with representatives of the recently formed Northern Ireland Taxis (NIT) group.

Minister Chris Hazzard said:

“Much work has already been carried out to help build a safe and professional taxi industry that benefits the hundreds of operators, drivers and administrative staff who work in the industry and to the hundreds of thousands of people who use taxis regularly.

“There are still many challenges ahead, however, I am determined to support and grow the industry through legislation that protects the industry itself and its customers.

“Metering remains a central plank of how taxis will be regulated in the future and current requirements remain in place.”

The Minister is aware of concerns around licensing classifications for taxis and reiterated that Class C is intended for use by, for example wedding, funeral and novelty vehicles and not as a general taxi class. He made it clear that he will be moving promptly to resolve the matter.

The Minister continued:

“To help inform and develop this work I have asked officials to establish a Taxi Advisory Group as soon as possible.”

The review will take into account the views of local operators and drivers, as well as those of the general public and other key stakeholders. New proposals are expected to be brought forward for public consultation in spring next year.

source: https://www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/

Egyptian Tony loses appeal in Crown Court

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.
  • Stealing.
  • 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.

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

Quarter of Leicester’s cabs ‘too old to use’ under proposed eight year taxi age limit

A quarter of Leicester’s taxis could be hauled off the city’s roads if the council presses ahead with plans for stricter age limits on cabs.

Currently the upper age limit on taxis is 11 years but official are considering bring that down to eight.

If this were to happen 410 of the current 1,650 hackney carriages and private hire cars operating in the city would be too old to use.

The city council says the move would restore taxi age limits to their 2013 level, and ensure cabs on the road are safer and less polluting.

Cabbies have said the move, first outlined at the height of a bitter dispute between the council and the RMT union over a new misconduct regime for drivers, is punitive.

City officials say a far higher proportion of older vehicles fail their twice-yearly safety checks at the council’s vehicle testing centre.

Figures from the city council’s licensing team show that beyond the age of eight years, nearly half of vehicles (43 per cent) failed their regular safety checks.

The failure rate rises to about 56 percent after 10 years.

They are also considering removing the artificial 325 limit on the number of Hackney carriages they license, inline with the Department for Transport’s guidelines.

Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby insisted the move was not linked to the dispute which led to a series of rush-hour go-slow protests before Christmas.

He said: “I’m determined to improve the city’s air quality by cutting vehicle emissions, and ensuring we have a modern, safe fleet of taxis operating in the city is part of that.

“There is strong evidence that an eight-year age limit may be more appropriate for all taxis, because beyond this the failure rate begins to rise significantly.

“I would like to see all new hackney carriages to be ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs), and also for existing vehicles to be replaced eventually with ULEVs.

“Having large numbers of older taxis on our roads delays them being replaced with newer, lower-emission vehicles, which has a very significant impact on air quality in the city.”

Chairman of the Leicestershire Public and Private Hire Association Mike Ward said cabbies could face a big expense replacing older vehicles.

He said: “If taxis keep passing their tests and are safe it should not matter how old they are.”Some drivers are not mechanics. They jump in their car, make money but don’t look after their vehicles and that can be a problem.

“If people do care for their taxis they will be safe however old they are.”

One RMT hackney cab driver, who did not wish to be named, said: “This is Soulsby’s revenge because the cabbies stood up to him.

“It’s just spite and it proves our point the council does not deal respectfully with us.”

A public consultation is being launched to give people a say on a number the issues.

There will also be a chance will have a say on proposals to ensure all new hackney carriages are ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs), which have lower running costs and will help improve the city’s air quality.

The consultation runs until August 31.

Taxis make up 11 percent of traffic during morning rush-hour in the city centre, so are considered an important focus for measures to cut nitrogen oxides and other pollutants.

Leicester’s current 11-year age limit is similar to those in other major Midlands cities, including Coventry (10 years), Nottingham (12 years) and Birmingham (14 years).London currently has a 15-year age limit, but is now introducing a decommissioning policy for taxis over 10 years old.

To take part in the consultation, visit: consultations.leicester.gov.uk

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

Private hire driver who was caught drink-driving has licence revoked by Cheltenham Borough Council

The private hire vehicle driver who was caught over the limit had done seven passenger journeys in the two hours before being pulled over

Cheltenham Borough Council has revoked the licence of a private hire driver with immediate effect after he tested positive for alcohol above the legal limit.

The driver, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was pulled over by police in June after they noticed two defective lights on the vehicle.

Smelling alcohol on his breath, they asked the driver to submit a sample of breath which showed that he was over the legal limit.

Two subsequent breath tests were also above the legal limit and the driver admitted that he had been drinking alcohol earlier in the day whilst watching a football match, but had not realised he was over the limit.

Police were unable to take further action against the driver as one of the breath tests at the custody suite was under the limit required for prosecution so instead they notified the council who referred the matter to the licensing committee on Friday July 29.

The committee decided that regardless of the police being unable to press charges, the driver had tested positive for alcohol above the legal limit and he admitted that he had been working when he was pulled over.

Live updates: Body found in search for Chris Cobb, baby death latest and more

His employer informed the council that the driver had done seven passenger journeys in the two hours before being pulled over.

Councillor Wendy Flynn, chair of the licensing committee, said: “The council’s principal concern is the safety of passengers and other road users.

“Drink-driving can never be tolerated under any circumstances and this driver deliberately drove passengers knowing he had been drinking earlier in the day.”

She said the fact that the driver was still over the legal limit more than two hours after he started work was particularly concerning.

“The police also confirmed that two of the lights on his vehicle were defective which in itself is a serious matter,” added Ms Flynn.

“In the circumstances, the committee unanimously felt that the appropriate course of action was to revoke the licence.

“In the interests of public safety the revocation of the licence will have immediate effect.”

The driver has 21 days to appeal to the magistrate’s court, but he cannot work in the interim because the committee revoked with immediate effect.

The driver can apply from scratch for a new licence at any time, which would involve going through all the usual checks and tests required of new drivers, and then he would be referred back to the committee. The committee would need to be satisfied that he is fit and proper to hold a licence.

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

Mayor quadruples team tackling illegal taxi and minicab activity

Sadiq Khan has committed to a dramatic expansion of the Transport for London (TfL) team responsible for tackling touting and illegal activity affecting the Capital’s taxi and private hire trades.

As part of a concerted drive to improve customer safety, an extra 250 Compliance Officers will be recruited and deployed over the next year to patrol London’s streets and crack down on illegal activity and improve safety. The Mayor’s move quadruples the size of a team which provides a highly visible, uniformed presence in the West End, City and other areas across London.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

‘I want Londoners to feel safe when they take a taxi or minicab and that is why I have approved a major increase to the size of our team that targets touts and illegal activities. It is the first part of a wider programme I will be introducing that will drive up standards in the industry and help our world famous cabbies continue to thrive.’

Steve Burton, TfL’s Director of Enforcement and On-Street Operations, said:

‘Illegal minicab activity not only poses a serious risk to passenger safety but undermines licensed, law abiding taxi and private hire drivers. This welcome boost to our enforcement team provides Londoners with additional reassurance and also sends a message to those not complying with the law that they will be caught and dealt with robustly.’

Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said:

‘This is fantastic news for Londoners and the black cab trade; it is so refreshing to have a Mayor who recognises the danger posed to the travelling public by illegal minicab activity and is prepared to act to ensure their safety. We welcome this substantial increase in compliance officers, and look forward to working with Sadiq in the future.’

The new officers will be funded through changes to private hire operator licensing so that larger firms pay a greater share of the costs of enforcement.

TfL and its partners regularly carry out operations to deter and disrupt illegal minicab activity in the Capital and protect the public from touts. Operation Neon is a joint operation between TfL, the Metropolitan Police Service and Westminster City Council that takes place every weekend. An operation running between May 2015 and July 2016 has seen the following results:

Operation Neon results:

  • 127 Operations
  • 9699 private hire drivers advised and moved on to keep roads clear for taxis and booked private hire cabs.
  • 448 private hire drivers were reported for not having a badge and were stopped from working for the remainder of the evening.
  • 5116 private hire drivers were reported for not wearing their badge.
  • 65 private hire drivers reported for plying for hire offences.
  • 1265 private hire drivers reported for parking on taxi ranks.
  • 2916 Parking tickets issued.

Today’s announcement is the first part of a comprehensive strategy overseen by the Mayor that will herald in a new era for the Capital’s taxi and private hire trades. It will deliver radical improvements for customers, a boost to safety, support for the taxi trade and further improve the quality of service offered by the private hire trade. There will also be a concerted effort to make the Capital’s taxi fleet the greenest in the world.

This activity will sit alongside improvements already underway following TfL’s review of Private Hire Regulations. From 3 October this year all taxis in the Capital will be required to accept card payments, including contactless, to make services even more accessible to the public.

source: https://tfl.gov.uk/

Another Milton Keynes taxi driver prosecuted for ‘blagging’

6938705977_0d226702c4_oAnother Milton Keynes minicab driver has been prosecuted for unlawfully plying for hire – known as blagging – following a joint enforcement operation carried out by Milton Keynes Council’s Taxi Enforcement team and Thames Valley Police.

Jonson Olukeye Okuribido, of Redbourne Court, Stony Stratford appeared in court today (3 August) and admitted to plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance.

He was fined £225 in total and ordered to pay £845 in costs with a £20 victim surcharge. He also received 6 DVLA penalty points for the no insurance offence.

Private hire vehicles can only pick up passengers by prior appointment only – and if a driver stops to pick up passengers on the street without pre-booking it also invalidates their car insurance.

The court heard how on the 15 August 2015, enforcement officers, acting as members of the public, engaged the driver on a journey which had not been pre-booked by the hirer from one location to another in Milton Keynes. As the officers got into the vehicle Mr Okuribido attempted to make the booking on their behalf.

At the completion of the journey taxi enforcement officers from Milton Keynes Council and officers from Thames Valley Police were waiting. Investigations by the officers showed that the driver did not have an allocated legitimate collection from the location he was caught plying from. In addition, a driver cannot make the booking with the Operator on behalf of the passenger.

The vehicle involved was displaying private hire door signage for Private Hire Operator Speedline.

Milton Keynes Council and Thames Valley Police have on-going concerns over the public’s use of Private Hire vehicles (also known as minicabs) that have not been booked in advance. Private Hire vehicle drivers are only allowed to pick up people who have pre-booked, unlike Hackney Carriages which are allowed to pick up fares on the street. In case of an accident, neither the driver nor the passenger would be covered by insurance.

When enforcing taxi legislation, the council’s main priority is the safety of the travelling public and other road users.

Neil Allen, Head of Regulatory Services at Milton Keynes Council said:”This case, along with the others we have prosecuted recently, will hopefully send a powerful message to the licensed trade and clearly show the consequences that await any licensed driver who fails to follow the law.

“Case law is clear and drivers are not permitted to make bookings on behalf of customers.

“We would urge members of the public not to get into private hire vehicles without a pre-arranged booking for their own safety.”

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

Pervert taxi driver faces jail after trying to coerce two female passengers to urinate in his car

Pervert Robert Smith, 56, told the women during taxi journeys in April and June last year that he would waive their fare if they did.

A grandfather is facing jail after trying to coerce two females to do the toilet in the back of his black hack taxi.

Pervert Robert Smith, 56, told the women during taxi journeys in April and June last year that he would waive their fare if they did.

Both women reported the incidents to the police and picked Smith, from Baillieston, Glasgow, out of a number of images shown to them.

After a trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court, Smith was convicted of repeatedly attempting to coerce one woman to urinate in the taxi, and another charge of coercing the second girl into removing her lower clothing and attempting to.

Smith – a father and grandfather – claimed the women did the toilet, he didn’t ask them to and was left with the mess.

The first women told the court that if she let him watch her that he would give her the taxi journey for free.

The second female, also claimed that while driving, Smith told her she wouldn’t need to pay if she did the toilet.

Sheriff Joan Kerr deferred the matter until next month, continued Smith’s bail and told him he was on the Sex Offenders’ register.

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