Telford car attacks: Taxi driver fled house after fire

Mahmood Hussien's taxi was among the vehicles targeted on Friday morning

A taxi driver has said he is lucky to be alive after having to flee his home when his cab was targeted during a spate of arson attacks in Shropshire.

Mahmood Hussien’s taxi was one of six vehicles damaged in Leegomery, Telford, in the early hours of Friday.

Mr Hussien described how he was awoken by police at about 04:00 BST and told to leave his home.

He said his car was parked near his home and the flames came close enough to crack the windows of his house.

The six attacks are being linked with 13 previous ones in the Grainger Drive area of Leegomery since 28 March and another arson attack in Wellington on Friday night.

‘Livelihood threatened’

Mr Hussien said: “The police officer knocked on the door at about 4 o’clock and woke us up.

“I came downstairs and the cab was on fire.

“She [the police officer] just said ‘get out of the house, get out of the house, get out of the house’.

“We all got out of the house.”

He added: “Whoever is doing it is no good.

“This is my living, my livelihood and there’s me stuck. I can’t go to work. I can’t make my living.

“My cab was parked close to the house. [The flames] cracked the windows and could have gone into the curtains and into the house.

“Somebody could have got killed. I’m not just talking about myself but other people. It’s really worrying.”

‘Horrific bang’

Tina Webster, from Acacia Drive, could only watch as her car burned on Friday.

Ms Webster said: “I heard an horrific bang and I looked out of my bedroom window and I could see flames and I knew it was my car.

“It’s a mobility car. It’s 12 months old and that’s my only way of getting around from A to B.

“It’s gone now so I don’t know what I’m going to do.

“They’d arrested people, so they told us. They said they’d put heightened police security on around the estates and yet another five [attacks happened on Friday morning].”

A police spokesman said the latest “random” attack involved a VW van parked in Arleston Avenue.

 

Keighley minicab boss told to pay £200000 or go to jail

A minicab firm boss jailed for four years for using his cars to peddle drugs on the streets has been ordered to stump up £200,000 of his ill-gotten gains.

Shahid Saleem (above), who drove a £45,000 BMW M3 convertible, is the latest of the area’s wrong doers to feel the force of a police pledge to “make them suffer financial pain and make no gain.”

Saleem, a former school learning mentor, ran his drug-dealing business while operating Arrows Private Hire in Lord Street, Keighley. The 35-year-old, of Ashleigh Street, Showfield, Keighley, was convicted by a jury in 2009 of possessing heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine with intent to supply. He pleaded guilty to possession of GHB and amphetamine.

Police found £1,760 in bank notes contaminated with heroin under a mattress when they searched his home in 2007.

Officers seized 28 bags of heroin and crack cocaine from one of his firm’s vehicles.

Saleem, who has served his prison sentence, returned to the court this week for a three-day confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

When questioning him about his financial position, Andrew Kershaw, barrister for the Crown, asked him how much he paid for the hooded top and jeans he was wearing.

Saleem, a father-of-four, was ruled to have benefited to the tune of £221,616 from his illegal activities. His available assets were fixed by the court at £205,490.

He was given six months to hand over the money or face going back to jail for two-and-a-half years.

Saleem’s barrister, Abdul Iqbal, said his client would need to sell a home to raise the cash.

After the hearing, Detective Constable Paul Harrison, of Airedale and North Bradford’s Proceeds of Crime Act Team, said: “We welcome the decision of the courts to confiscate such a large sum from Saleem which officers were able to persuade the courts he had gained from criminal activity.

“This is the latest in a series of truly significant seizures awarded so far this year by the courts.

“If anyone suspects their neighbours may be profiting from criminal activity, contact CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.”

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

Taxi driver jailed for raping passenger

Edward Chapman, 45, of Romford, was sentenced to seven years in jail at Wood Green Crown Court.

A TAXI driver from Romford has been convicted and jailed for raping his female passenger.

Edward Chapman, 45, of Beauly Way, Romford, appeared on Tuesday 3, April, at Wood Green Crown Court, where he has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment for rape, and will remain on the sex offenders register for the rest of his life.

Following a seven day trial, the court heard how on 12 August, 2011 the female victim, who was in her mid 30s, had been out with friends and flagged down a Hackney carriage in the early hours of the morning in Shoreditch, east London.

The victim had been feeling unwell and asked to be taken to her home address. However when they reached her home in Finchley, Chapman raped the woman in his cab.

Following the crime the victim informed a friend that she had been assaulted by the driver and then told her family what had happened. Police were called and an immediate investigation, led by detectives from Barnet Sapphire, began.

Officers began a detailed search of CCTV were able to identify the cab that had picked up the victim as it had a distinctive ‘Huffington Post’ advertisement on carriage.

Chapman was arrested on 15 August 2011 and later charged with rape.

He was convicted on Tuesday, 3 April after denying the offence.

Detective Sergeant Steve Grainger, of the Barnet Sapphire unit who investigate serious sexual crime, said: “Firstly I would like to thank the victim and her family for their courage and support during the investigation.

“Chapman was a licensed taxi driver who abused his position to take ruthless advantage of this woman. It is only by the bravery of victims that people like Chapman can be stopped.

“We understand that some victims may be worried about reporting serious sexual assaults to police, but I would like to reassure the public that we take all reports seriously and will investigate them thoroughly. We also have specially trained officers who do all they can to support victims no matter what the circumstances are.”

In sentencing on Tuesday, 3 April, His Honour Judge Browne QC, stated: ‘”Black cab drivers have rightly earned a very high reputation as the most reliable drivers round the streets of London and the suburbs. By your conviction today, you have damaged the reputation of back cab drivers generally. There are several obvious aggravating features of your quite disgraceful conduct.

“This rape involves a gross breach of trust by a professional driver to his passenger, taking advantage of a vulnerable passenger, the passenger being a total stranger to you. Without the considerable courage of victims, rape convictions are impossible. The victim of this rape is still affected by her ordeal at your hands. But what emerged about her character was her calmness, her quiet dignity, and her quest for justice, which has been achieved.”

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

Smoggy taxi marshal trial will not be continued

A BID to reconsider a decision to continue a trial taxi marshal scheme has been rejected.

The taxi marshals operate at peak times at weekends in Wilson Street, in Middlesbrough.

Recently Julia Rostron, executive councillor for community safety, agreed to continue the trial while efforts continued to find a permanent solution to issues of hackney carriages and private hire vehicles using Wilson Street.

But Councillor Michael Hudson led a call-in of the decision because the decision to extend the trial of taxi marshals was “unfair towards the private hire trade and fails to consider public safety and fails to consider the other options”.

The call-in was considered by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Board.

Cllr Hudson was accompanied by solicitor John Ellwood who told the Overview and Scrutiny Board that a consultant’s report commissioned by the council had recommended against taxi marshals being used in Wilson Street.

It said marshals should be used on super-ranks to be established elsewhere in the town.

Mr Ellwood said that closing some hackney carriage ranks on Wilson Street and moving them elsehwere and having taxi marshals in those locations was a solution.

Private hire vehicles would then be able to pick up and drop off passengers in Wilson Street.

Councillor Rostron said: “My decision to extend the trial period was made after considering all the facts and looking at all the correspondence we received, particularly from the police. More people were in favour of taxi marshals than were opposed to them.

“Public order and safety has improved since the taxi marshals were introduced. We are looking to find a permanent solution and we are giving ourselves more time to find that permanent solution.”

The Overview and Scrutiny Board rejected the call to refer the issue back to Cllr Rostron for further consideration.

Councillor Jan Brunton, chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Board said: “The executive councillor had lots of information and the decision has been made on that. In the interests of public safety I agree with the decision that was taken.”

Read More http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/

Taxi drivers in North Yorkshire to help tackle crime

Anything we can do to improve the safety of cab drivers and reduce the number of violent assaults on cab drivers should be welcomed with open arms."

Taxi drivers in North Yorkshire are being asked to join a scheme to help tackle crime in the area.

Taxi Watch will give drivers across Scarborough, Filey and Whitby direct contact with the borough council’s CCTV operation to report incidents.

Taxi drivers will be able to become the “eyes and ears of the town” raising any concerns they may have.

Brian Hall, a taxi driver, said the scheme would not only ensure the public’s safety but drivers’ too.

The volunteer scheme asks drivers to report any issues they come across, from drunken fighting to concerns over a vulnerable person alone on the street.

Wayne Casey, from the National Taxi Association, said the scheme was a good idea

“Anything the cab and private hire trade can do to help people out is good,” he said.

“Anything we can do to improve the safety of cab drivers and reduce the number of violent assaults on cab drivers should be welcomed with open arms.”

But Nick Pickles, from Big Brother Watch, said: “Taxi drivers are not police officers. If there is a problem in these town centres it needs to get sorted out.

“If we’ve lost control of the streets shouldn’t we be asking why?

“If something happened before cabbies could ring 999, so what we’re doing now is saying rather than just the serious stuff, tell us anything of interest.”

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/

Racist thug spared jail

A MAN who hit an Asian taxi driver in the face has been spared an immediate prison sentence at Manchester magistrates’ court.

Nathan Lear (19) screamed racial abuse at Mohammed Zahir and damaged his taxi, said Jennifer Baines, prosecuting. He was given a three-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to pay the victim £850. The chairman of the bench told him “What you did crosses the custody threshold; you are lucky not to be going straight to prison”.

Lear, of Brierley Avenue, Failsworth, was drunk when he asked to be taken to Salford. On arrival he demanded to be taken back home – and refused to leave the taxi.

Mr Zahir drove to the police station and on the way Lear grabbed the wheel, forcing the car on to the pavement. Lear punched his victim twice in the face and damaged his radio equipment and the dashboard.

Lear admitted charges of racially-aggravated assault and damage.

Drunk teen tried to rob cab driver

TEENAGER Michael Ford attempted to rob a taxi driver on the anniversary of his mum’s death.

Stafford Crown Court yesterday heard the 19-year-old and his accomplice, who was not named, called a cab which collected them in Birches Head shortly before midnight on December 1.

Prosecutor Pat Sullivan said: “Ford and his accomplice hatched a plan to rob a taxi driver.

“They called one cab and got in, but when they saw it had automatic locking doors they realised it was not a good idea. They made their excuses and got out.”

But 30 minutes later they called another cab which picked them up in Moston Street, Birches Head.

“They got in the back of the cab and the driver took them to Redhills Road, Milton. They asked him to stop underneath a bridge.

“As the defendant was getting out the accomplice took a knife to the driver’s throat. There was a scuffle as the driver fought against the attacker.”

The court heard the two men shouted they were only joking as they left.

The driver was left with injuries to his hand.

Mr Sullivan said the driver was left very frightened and no longer wants to work nightshifts, which has had financial consequences for his family.

Ford, of Oak Street, Birches Head, was traced as the call to the taxi firm was made from his sister’s land-line.

He pleaded guilty to attempted robbery on the basis he did not know his accomplice had a knife or that he was going to use it.

The defendant was yesterday sentenced to 20 months’ detention in a young offenders’ institution after he and an accomplice tried to rob a taxi driver.

James Dixon, mitigating, said Ford was quite immature for his age.

But he said the teenager was realistic and knew the likely sentence he would receive.

Mr Dixon said the offence was committed on the anniversary of Ford’s mum’s death.

He added that the defendant is remorseful.

He said: “This will have had quite an effect on the victim. He is aware he has continued to cause his elder sister a lot of grief.”

Judge Paul Glenn told Ford: “You are now 19 and you have been regularly before the courts since the age of 16.

“At the time of this offence you were subject to a community order for a public order matter. That is an aggravating feature.

“Your basis is accepted and I sentence you in accordance with it.

“The most important part is you were not aware of the knife until the other man produced it.”

Judge Glenn said the offence was aggravated because there were two offenders, it was pre-planned, it took place at night and the victim was vulnerable.

He said: “Taxi drivers are vulnerable because of the job they do. They provide a valuable public service.

“It is important the courts protect them.

“This offence occurred at about 1am in quite an isolated location, no doubt chosen for that purpose.

“Your accomplice held a knife to his throat and demanded money.

“This was premeditated, you called the taxi with the intention of robbing the driver.”

Ford will serve up to half his sentence with the rest on licence.

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

MEN: Trafford taxi licensing officers suspended in ‘cash-for-cab-licences’ probe

Two town hall taxi licensing officers have been suspended in a ‘cash-for-cab-licences’ probe.

The pair – who work for Trafford council – were suspended this week after a formal complaint from within the trade, the M.E.N. understands.

It is believed the town hall probe relates to payments allegedly made by applicants who had failed part of the application process. It is believed the investigation has been ongoing for several weeks. Police are also investigating whether any criminal activity has taken place.

A licence for either a black cab or private-hire vehicle costs £128. Drivers must prove they are fit and proper to drive a taxi, including passing a police criminal records check and a medical. All potential drivers are also meant to pass the ‘knowledge’ test – a rigorous series of questions based on their memory of Trafford’s roads.

The council has passed details of its investigation to detectives at Trafford CID.

A council spokesman said: “Two members of staff from the council’s licensing team have been suspended to allow an investigation to be conducted in accordance with the council’s procedures. Because this is an ongoing investigation, it would be inappropriate for us to provide any further details at this stage.”

A police spokesman said: “Greater Manchester Police has been contacted by Trafford council about an ongoing investigation they are carrying out.

source: http://menmedia.co.uk/

Stretford cabbie ‘terrified to go back to work’ after Wythenshawe assault

BEATEN: Two men attacked taxi driver Mohammad Qasim in his cab. Now he says he is scared of being assaulted again

A taxi driver who needed 10 stitches in his head after being attacked by two passengers has said he has been left terrified of returning to work.

Dad-of-two Mohammad Qasim, 34, was repeatedly punched by one man as another pinned him to his seat after he refused to take the group of four passengers any further when they became verbally abusive.

Mr Qasim, from Stretford, suffered a deep gash to his forehead as well as cuts and bruises and is now appealing for help in finding his attackers.

He said: “It was very frightening. It all happened so quickly and I just didn’t know what to do.

“I’m a man just trying to earn a living so I can support my family during a recession but now it seems very emotionally difficult for me to return to work as I’d be terrified it would happen again.

“As soon as they got in the car they were being very disrespectful and one of them even grabbed the steering wheel at one point.

“I knew it was turning into a bad situation but you still never expect someone to attack you for trying to drive them somewhere and do your job.

“If they were caught it would help put my mind at ease as I don’t believe people should get away with things like this.”

Mr Qasim, who has worked as a self-employed driver for six months, was attacked as one of the men returned to the car after pulling over to buy cigarettes from a petrol station on Rowlands Way, Wythenshawe.

He had picked up the two men and two women at around 2am on Saturday from the Portway pub, on Portway, Wythenshawe when they asked to be taken to Chesham Avenue in Urmston.

The attacker was white, around 5ft 5in with ginger hair and medium build while the man who restrained Mr Qasim was white, of medium build and with black hair. All four members of the group were described as being in their mid-20s.

Anyone with information should phone police on 0161 856 3543 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

source: http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/

Thugs beat and robbed taxi driver

TWO teenage thugs robbed a taxi driver after he refused to buy cigarettes from them.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Jordan Walters and Simon Brooks attacked taxi driver Tariq Mohhmed when he stopped at the California Wines store in Tonge Moor Road on September 13 in order to buy cigarettes. Sam Makkin, prosecuting, told how Mr Mohhmed encountered Walters and Brooks who had been drinking and/or taking cannabis while they were offering the shopkeeper cigarettes.

They told 39-year-old Mr Mohhmed they would sell him some. He refused but the youths, who were both aged 17 at the time, followed him from the shop and attacked him, punching him in the head and kicking him in the face when he fell to the floor.

The pair demanded money, his phone and car keys and when he handed them £60 he was held down by one teenager whilst the other searched his car.

The court heard his injuries were limited to a split lip, grazing and a loosened tooth and the two youth were identified from CCTV footage in the shop.

Walters, now 18, of Tonge Moor Road, Bolton, and Brooks, now also 18, of Benjamin Court, Bolton, both pleaded guilty to robbery. Andrew Costello, defending Walters said he had little or no recollection of the incident because of the alcohol he had drunk and has had a trouble background, with his mother, father and older brother all in jail. Judge Elliot Knopf sentenced Walters to 18 months in custody and gave Brooks 12 month suspended sentence and a four- month curfew order.

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