Retrial for East Lancashire private hire driver over indecent assault claims

Retrial for East Lancashire private hire driver over indecent assault claims

A private hire driver accused of indecently assaulting two female passengers is to face a retrial after the jury failed to reach a verdict.

Younis Hussain Zaman, 32, of Higher Antley Street, Accrington, stood trial at Preston Crown Court after denying two charges of indecent assault and two of plying for hire when he was licensed for private hire.

Andrew Robinson, prosecuting, said the two females were aged 18 and 21.

Zaman was alleged to have taken one to her home in Clitheroe and then offered to let her off with the fare in return for a kiss.

He allegedly repeated the offence the next day with a woman who he had taken to Langho.

On both occasions Zaman was alleged to have kissed the women and touched one of them in a sexual way.

He was remanded on bail for the preparation of committal papers.

The trial is set for September 26.


Convicted private hire driver fails to overturn licensing ruling

A FORMER private hire driver has been told he is ‘not a fit or proper person’ to hold a licence after failing to notify the authorities of several motoring convictions.

Burton Magistrates’ CourtAsmin Ashfaq, of Derby Street, Burton, appeared at Burton Magistrates’ Court to appeal against a decision by East Staffordshire Borough Council to revoke his private hire licence.

A three-hour hearing was told how the 27-year-old’s private hire driver’s licence was withdrawn by the authority’s licensing sub-committee at a hearing on February 1.

The complainant first obtained his licence in April 2009 and failed to notify the council at that time that he had already been convicted of speeding.

In May, Ashfaq was convicted of using a motor vehicle without third party insurance and, under the conditions of the complainant’s licence, he should have notified the licensing team when he was charged with the offence and again when he was convicted.

The Horninglow Street courthouse also heard how Ashfaq should have produced his driver’s licence to the licensing team because he had eight points endorsed on it for a conviction in September 2009.

The authority was unaware of any of the matters and was only informed after a police spot check.

By failing to notify the council, Ashfaq was in breach of the conditions of his private hire driver’s licence and had to appear in front of the sub-committee so members could determine whether he should continue to hold a private hire licence.

The court heard how Ashfaq also had 11 points on his licence — the council’s policy is that any driver with more than 10 points has to appear in front of the subcommittee so its members can determine whether they are suitable to carry out duties.

Ashfaq appeared in front of the subcommittee in December 2010 and, as part of that hearing, he was asked if there were any other matters he should bring to the members’ attention — to which he answered ‘no’.

However, Ashfaq was fully aware that he had no had insurance for his taxi from November 17 to 26, 2010.

The complainant attended the licensing office on December 3 to answer questions on the subject and was subsequently given a formal warning on December 21.

Ashfaq’s licence was then revoked following a final hearing.

Magistrate Chris Butain said Ashfaq’s actions were ‘unacceptable’.

He said: “We have decided to dismiss your appeal for a licence.

“You are not a fit or proper person to hold a licence.

“You failed to notify the authority that you had several motoring convictions and when your vehicle wasn’t insured.

“You were clearly aware of all the conditions of a licence when you passed the test, so there is no excuse to abuse them.”

Ashfaq declined to comment.


‘Abusive’ Durham cabbie Jason Craggs has licence revoked

A taxi driver who was the subject of a catalogue of complaints from passengers and fellow cabbies lost an appeal against having his licence revoked.

Jason Craggs was accused of swearing at passengers, refusing to take them on short journeys, driving too fast and assaulting fellow cabbie Peter Crossling.

And magistrates upheld a decision by Durham County Council’s licensing committee to remove Craggs’ licence to ply his trade in Durham City after hearing evidence from another driver and a police officer.

Council bosses had logged 17 complaints about the taxi driver over the years, including one of Craggs failing to stop at a zebra crossing, one of alleged road rage and one of him refusing to take a passenger to the railway station.

Mr Crossling told the hearing at Consett how a furious Craggs had made head-to-head contact with him following a row at the rank in North Road, Durham.

He said the row was so heated that staff from the nearby Greggs bakers came out to see what was happening.

The row erupted after Craggs allegedly refused to take a woman passenger to the Durham Students Union building at Old Elvet, telling her it was just as quick to walk.

When Mr Crossling remonstrated with Craggs he leaned into his cab and “his head connected with mine,” he told the hearing.

Mr Crossling said he was “verbally and physically abused, intimidated and threatened.”

PC Kay Howarth told the hearing that Craggs “appeared to have a blatant disregard for the traffic law.”

She said Durham County Council had received complaints from passengers about him driving too fast and being abusive.

But Paul Donogue, representing Craggs, argued that some customers “complained because they enjoyed complaining, they are Victor Meldrew types,” referring to the sitcom character in One Foot in the Grave.

He said Craggs had only received three penalty points in 16 years on the road.

Craggs, of Ely Terrace, Oxhill, Stanley, County Durham, told the court he believed Mr Crossling had “behaved unprofessionally” by remonstrating with him on the rank.

But Richard Langdon, on behalf of Durham County Council, said: “Durham is a tourist destination and when people come to visit they do not expect to receive a tirade of abuse from a taxi driver.”

He told how the authority had been logging complaints against Craggs for years.

Following a 20 minute recess magistrates upheld the council’s decision. Craggs was also ordered to pay costs.


Taxi licence vetting procedure approved

THE vetting procedure for people seeking a taxi or private hire car driver’s licence has been given a clean bill of health.

The force’s lay adviser panel reviewed the role of the Taxi Examination Centre to determine whether passengers were being protected. The vetting procedure was attacked earlier this year after figures showed over 150 taxi and private hire drivers have been allowed to work on Edinburgh’s streets despite police fears that they are unfit to hold a licence.

It emerged that councillors overruled police objections – usually relating to criminal or driving convictions – sparking safety concerns. Police had made 326 objections over the last two years, with the council only agreeing in 171 cases.

But in their annual report, the lay advisors said they were “satisfied that the regulations and checks carried out by the TEC make sure that consumers are protected”.

Horsham District Council joins crackdown at Gatwick Airport

A MULTI-AGENCY operation targeted taxi offences at Gatwick Airport this month.
Police, local councils, the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA), and the UK Border Agency (UKBA) came together at Gatwick Airport’s South Terminal to crackdown on taxi offences.
On Wednesday April 6, Sussex Police, also working with licensing officers from the London Public Carriage Office (PCO), and Crawley, Adur and Worthing, Reigate and Banstead, Horsham, and Reading councils, stopped and checked 75 taxis or suspected unlicensed taxis.
VOSA staff issued five immediate prohibition notices for vehicles with defective tyres, preventing them being driven further without replacements and fresh MoT certificates.
The local authorities and PCO reported a further 27 drivers for various taxi licensing offences and also issued one immediate prohibition notice.
UKBA officers arrested two men. One was operating a licensed taxi but was in the UK on a visa permitting him only to work as a waiter, and the other was in the UK as a student. Their vehicles were towed away by police, and can be recovered on payment of £150 towing fee plus daily storage costs.
Operation Tout enhances the safety of passengers and drivers of taxis and private hire vehicles coming to Gatwick Airport by enforcing compliance with local authority licensing regulations and checking vehicles are safe to be used on the road.
Police, Gatwick Airport and partners encourage travellers to be confident in the use of lawfully operated taxis to and from the airport.
PC Richard Shakesheff said: “Our operation, which is carried out regularly, shows how different authorities working together can help keep the travelling public safe. This issue is not unique to Gatwick. As at any other major transport hub is really important for people to know that they are using a licensed taxi prior to travelling. Unlicensed taxis may be in an unroadworthy condition and not insured to carry passengers for hire. Their drivers have not been vetted by councils and may not even have a driving licence.
“When taking a taxi from Gatwick Airport, unless you have pre-booked, always use a London Gatwick Airport approved taxi. These are conveniently located at both terminals.”

PH driver attacks punters

A Keighley cabbie who claimed he was robbed by racist thugs last year has been given a suspended prison sentence for ‘whipping’ two of the passengers.

Father-of-six Riaz Ahmed, 42, called for his ‘attackers’ to be brought to justice in a newspaper report last April, but at Bradford Crown Court yesterday he admitted he had assaulted the two men with a whip-like implement, possibly a car aerial.

Ahmed, who worked as a private hire driver for Cullingworth firm DCW Taxis, became involved in an early hours argument with Dean Bulmer and his nephew Jason Bulmer after he had picked up the pair and two other men in Harden following a party.

Judge Jonathan Rose heard some of the group had talked about doing a runner as they travelled to Allerton, and after Ahmed stopped his taxi there was an argument with the Bulmers.

Prosecutor Giles Bridge said Ahmed, who had no previous convictions, went to the boot of his car and removed the implement. “The defendant then used this implement like a whip on both Jason and Dean Bulmer causing cuts and lacerations.”

The court heard that during the incident, Ahmed himself was punched and hit with a stick.

Ahmed, who has had his taxi badge taken off him, denied committing any offences following his arrest and made a cross-complaint. He stated he was the victim and after one of the men had been dropped off he was abused by the three remaining passengers. Ahmed also said his takings and a sat-nav had been stolen.

The court heard Ahmed, of Compton Street, Keighley, had been the breadwinner for his family, but was now on benefits.

Having decided that the case merited a nine-month prison sentence, Judge Rose said he was prepared to suspend the jail term for 18 months because of Ahmed’s previous character, guilty pleas and personal circumstances.

Ahmed will also have to do 100 hours of unpaid work for the community

Cabbies – break the law and pay more

TAXI drivers might have to pay more money to get a licence if they keep breaking the law, a council chief has warned.

The trade has been issued with the threat as a row continues over the way some taxi drivers illegally park and the number of rank spaces in Worcester city centre.

We previously reported in your Worcester News that taxi drivers were getting away with parking on double yellow lines or in disabled or loading bays because loopholes in the law have left enforcement officers effectively powerless.

While efforts are being made to change that so officers can issue offending drivers with fines or penalty points, licensing committee chairman Councillor David Clark said if the problems persisted there would be financial implications.

“The consequences will be that the council may have to spend much more in enforcing the rule of law,” he told your Worcester News.

“Now here is the rub for the trade. The cost will not be borne by the ratepayers of Worcester.

“The cost will have to be recouped by the licensing function, which will mean increasing the charge we make for their licences.”

Worcester has about 330 licensed drivers on its books.

The city council recently agreed to introduce more temporary spaces in New Street and Angel Place at night and there are plans to do something similar in St Swithin’s Street to try to further ease the parking problem.

Some sections of the trade have called for a cap on the number of drivers able to operate in the city. While the council can regulate how many hackney carriage vehicles it has, it cannot do the same for private hire vehicles as it is against the law.

The only way a cap could be introduced is if proof is provided that trade is over-subscribed in the city.

However, that is likely to cost about £10,000 in consultants’ fees, a sum the council is not willing to spend.

Nobody from Worcester Taxi Drivers’ Association was available for comment.

Taxi tariff

What it costs to be a taxi driver:

• Driver’s initial application (including CRB and DVLA check) – £263
• Knowledge Test – £55
• Disability Awareness Training – £48
• Renewal (including CRB and DVLA check) – £126
• Hackney Carriage vehicle/ private hire vehicle initial – £399
• Renewal – £340
• Transfer of licensed vehicle to another owner – £144
• Private hire vehicle operator – £245 plus £50 per vehicle
• Vehicle licence plate replacement – £34
• Driver’s badge replacement – £17

Private hire driver keeps licence after moving ambulance

A CABBIE who moved an ambulance which was on a call dealing with a sick baby has been allowed to keep his licence.

Neil John Whitehorn, of The Crescent, Eastbourne, denied moving the ambulance last summer but stood trial at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court on February 18.

He was found guilty of obstructing or hindering a person assisting an emergency worker.

Magistrates gave Whitehorn a conditional discharge and ordered the 64-year-old to pay £620 in court costs.

Whitehorn faced the prospect of losing his private hire licence after being convicted and his case was heard before Eastbourne Borough Council’s licensing sub-committee.

The sub-committee held a meeting on Tuesday night (March 22), behind closed doors, and decided Whitehorn would be allowed to keep his licence.

He is allowed to continue his work as a cabbie in the town but will be closely monitored for the next two years.

Whitehorn was also given a written warning.

The ambulance Whitehorn moved had been blocking Pevensey Road in August as paramedics were preparing to take a one-month-old baby to hospital.

Police were called after the ambulance crew reported the vehicle had been taken but the ambulance was discovered nearby.

Speaking after Eastbourne Borough Council’s decision, a South East Coast Ambulance spokesperson said, “We hope Mr Whitehorn realises the potential seriousness of his actions, which could have hindered the treatment our clinicians provided at the scene.”

The spokesperson explained ambulances sometimes have no choice but to block the road during emergencies.

He added, “We recognise it can be frustrating, but we ask the public to recognise this is only being done to ensure that we are able to get to those who need our help quickly.”

Kirklees taxi drivers ready to strike over new penalty points system

CABBIES could strike after councillors brought in a new penalty points system to catch bad taxi drivers.

Kirklees Council’s Licensing and Safety Committee backed the proposal yesterday.

But a taxi drivers’ representative predicted strike action if the system is introduced.

Council officers have drawn-up the proposal, which punishes cabbies for dozens of offences.

Any driver who racks up 12 points in a year could be stripped of their licence by Kirklees.

Some of the offences are taken from the general penalty points system used on all motorists – including driving without insurance and using a mobile phone at the wheel.

However, many of the offences in the Kirklees system are unique to cabbies – including overcharging for a journey, failing to wear a driver’s badge and jumping the queue at a taxi rank.

Kirklees Hackney Carriage Association spokesman Amjad Nadeem warned yesterday his members could strike over the issue.

“We’re going to ask our members what steps they want to take,” he said.

“Chances are we will have a protest or strike action over this.”

Mr Nadeem added it was wrong for cabbies to have to face two penalty systems – one enforced by law and the other by Kirklees.

He said: “Our members feel this system is unfair because there’s already a system in place where penalty points go on a normal driving licence.”

Mr Nadeem added that the council had promised to consult his group before deciding whether to go ahead.

He said: “We had a meeting with councillors and officers in January. They were supposed to have a further consultation with us, which they did not do.”

The Licensing and Safety Committee backed the system at Huddersfield Town Hall yesterday.

It will come into force on January 1, 2012.

Any driver who racks up 12 penalty points in a year will go in front of the council’s Licensing Panel with a recommendation that their licence is suspended for 28 days.

A cabbie who collects another 12 points will be suspended for 56 days.

And any driver who racks up 12 points for a third time will have their licence revoked.

Several committee members spoke in favour of the penalty points system.

Kirkburton Conservative Clr Adrian Murphy said: “I think we should go ahead with this and move our standards up.”

Clr Christine Iredale told the meeting that cabbies who commit motoring offences deserved extra punishment.

The Golcar Lib Dem said: “If a normal driver uses their mobile at the wheel they get three penalty points and a £60 fine.

“If a taxi driver uses his mobile phone while taking paying passengers, I believe that’s a more serious offence.”

Liversedge and Gomersal Conservative Clr Derrick Yates added: “The good drivers aren’t affected by this. It’s the one’s who persistently ignore the rules.”

Clr Masood Ahmed was the only member of the 12-strong committee to speak against the penalty points system.

The Dewsbury South Labour man does not believe the council has enough workers to enforce the new rules.

“We’re already struggling with the staffing we’ve got,” he said.

Councillors also criticised a 243-name petition opposing the new system, which was submitted by Kirklees Hackney Carriage Association

Committee members claimed several names had been written in by a single person.

“You can clearly see that one man has done the work on each page,” said Clr Murphy.

“It’s ridiculous, they must think we’re dodos.”

Heckmondwike Labour man Clr Steve Hall agreed.

“This petition is an absolute joke,” he said.

“How are we supposed to take this seriously? It should be thrown in the bin.”

But Mr Nadeem told the Examiner: “The paperwork was given to each base who took responsibility for getting every driver to sign it.

“There’s a badge number next to each name, so every driver can be contacted to see if the information on the petition is correct.”

Some of the offences in the new penalty points system for taxi drivers. Totting 12 points could equal a ban

Unreasonably prolonging a journey or overcharging 4 points

Failure to have a working fire extinguisher 3 pts

Touting or illegally plying for hire: 9 pts

Failure to wear driver’s badge: 4 pts

Eating food while driving: 3 pts

Carrying an offensive weapon in a vehicle: 6 pts

Failure to observe taxi rank discipline: 3 pts

Driving without a taxi driver’s licence: 12 pts

Smoking in a taxi: 3 pts

Refusing to accept a fare without reasonable cause: 4 pts
Kirklees Council votes against relaxing taxi driver licensing rules – Read the story here


Maniac taxi driver jailed after mowing down customer over fare

A maniac taxi driver who mowed down a Halesowen man after they argued about the fare has been jailed for four years.

Lee Griffin who had been dropped off in Stourbridge Road near his home had to undergo major surgery after suffering complex fractures to his left shin and knee.

Judge Martin Walsh said Mr Griffin and cabbie Khalil Aziz both believed they were right as their late night argument became extremely heated.

He said it was correct that Mr Griffin had been provocative with his language and manner and he had given Aziz £10 to cover the fare for his taxi ride from a Birmingham nightclub, But as he was running off Aziz “deliberately and intentionally” drove his taxi at him knocking him to the ground and causing very serious injuries.

“I have formed the view this was a spontaneous and impulsive act in the heat of the moment,” the Judge told Aziz at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

Aziz of Hobmoor Croft, Yardley had denied causing grievous bodily harm with intent and driving dangerously but he was convicted on both charges by a jury at the end of his trial.

Miss Elizabeth Power defending Aziz, a 44 year old father of five and a man with no previous convictions maintained he had acted completely out of character.

She stressed there had been a degree of provocation and said the behaviour of Aziz was impulsive after some verbal abuse and the slamming of his cab door.

The trial had been told Mr Griffin got into the taxi outside the Nightingale Nightclub so he could be taken back to Halesowen.

The nightclub had a discount scheme for its customers with the taxi firm that employed Aziz and Mr Griffin felt he was entitled to money off for the ride.

But an “unpleasant” argument then ensued with Aziz who was also disqualified from driving for four years telling the jury that Mr Griffin sustained his injuries when he kicked his taxi.