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.
LICENSING chiefs have warned illegal drivers they are risking prosecution after an unauthorised cabbie was left with almost £400 to pay in court penalties.
Taxi driver Henry George Dickman, 57, was seen picking up passengers from outside Alcote House, in Shotton Colliery, despite his vehicle not having a hackney carriage licence or being a private hire vehicle.
Dickman, of the village’s William Morris Terrace, who was not insured for private hire purposes, was fined £180 and ordered to pay £215 costs as well as having his licence endorsed with seven penalty points.
On September 20 last year, a transport monitoring officer from Durham County Council was observing the service provided by a private hire firm from Peterlee while they were carrying out a contract issued by the local authority.
The court heard the officer saw Dickman picking up passengers as part of the contract issued by the council’s transport services section.
Dickman, who pleaded guilty by post, said in mitigation that he had used his own car because the step on the licensed vehicle normally used was jammed and he had been unable to contact the owner of the firm.
Laura Cloney, the council’s licensing enforcement team leader, said: “The safety and protection of the public is of paramount importance to the licensing authority.
“The council will not hesitate to prosecute those who carry out taxi or private hire work without holding the required vehicle licence and insurance, potentially endangering members of the public. It is hoped that this case serves as a warning to others.”
A temporary solution has been agreed to the taxi problem in Marketgait — and a trade leader has urged all drivers to follow the new guidance.
The council’s taxi liaison group discussed the fallout from the police crackdown on cabbies stopping to pick up and drop off customers on the inner ring road, which is an urban clearway.
A particular problem had arisen outside the G Casino, and as a result Dundee Taxi Association boycotted the thoroughfare over the Easter weekend.
Chairman Graeme Stephen said the action hit drivers in the pocket as well as forcing customers to make their way to points off Marketgait to find taxis.
He hoped the meeting of the liaison group involving council, police and trade representatives would find a way forward.
Mr Stephen said the meeting had been constructive — a temporary solution had emerged which he hoped would succeed until a permanent solution could be put in place.
“What has been agreed is that a taxi rank will be set up round the corner from the casino in Hawkhill and cabs will be able to wait there from 11pm to 6am,” he said.
“The rank will be next to the zig-zag markings, it will be big enough for several cars and it will tail round into Brown Street.
“There will be a pole erected at the rank and there will be a sign at the casino with an arrow directing customers to it just 50 yards away.
“We think this is a good idea and it should be in place by this weekend. The more permanent solution being looked at is creating a bay into the pavement outside the casino where a couple of taxis would sit and that bay would be fed by taxis in the new rank round the corner in Hawkhill.
“There might even be a taxi marshal to control this area.
“On the other side of Marketgait where the nightclubs are, there are plans to reverse the direction of traffic on South Ward Road so that taxis could queue there and then get straight on to Marketgait which they can’t do at present.
“This would happen after Dundee House is finished and South Ward Road is reopened.”
Mr Stephen appealed to taxi drivers to make the arrangement work.
“I urge them not to stop to pick up or drop off passengers in Marketgait but to use the new rank round the corner in Hawkhill,” he said.
TOWN hall licensing chiefs have pledged to clamp down on taxis registered outside Bournemouth picking up fares in the town, leaving their passengers uninsured.
A meeting of Bournemouth council’s licensing board ruled on Tuesday that action against taxis licensed in neighbouring towns would be taken “urgently”.
Bournemouth taxi driver, Duncan Craig, said drivers were very pleased by the outcome of the meeting.
“A councillor put a move forward saying something needs to be done straight away. We were told there was no money, but I raised the issue of public safety.
“It feels like a victory. We just hope the council keeps its end of the bargain.
“If passengers get in a car from a different area without a booking, they are travelling, by definition, uninsured,” said Mr Craig. Cllr Andrew Morgan, the chair of Bournemouth council’s licensing board, told the Echo that members were concerned that passenger safety had been placed at risk.
“There seems to be some evidence of private hire drivers acting as Hackney Carriages and picking up people without bookings.
“The effect of that is that any passenger picked up in such a way is effectively uninsured.
“We have taken enforcement action in this area before. Drivers need to be on notice that we will take action to stop this because passengers are at risk,” said Cllr Morgan.
He said councillors on the licensing board had instructed officers to take “urgent action”, which would include posing as passengers to gath er evidence for prosecutions.
“Our feeling is that a couple of quick prosecutions will get the message home,” he said.
BOURNEMOUTH taxi drivers fed up with competitors flouting licensing laws have called off a protest planned for Monday after licensing chiefs promised to take their concerns seriously.
An urgent report will now go before the next meeting of Bournemouth council’s licensing committee after driver Duncan Craig told councillors yesterday that lives were being placed in danger by uninsured drivers.
In a last minute deputation following an article in Wednesday’s Daily Echo, Mr Craig told councillors there had been a “massive increase” in the amount of illegal pick-ups in Bournemouth.
“We would like to know where all of our money that we pay in licensing costs is going,” said Mr Craig.
“Surely the money raised by catching and fining these rogue drivers would pay to police this matter and safeguard the public and our livelihoods.”
He said rogue drivers were collecting passengers from well-known pick up points used by legitimate private hire firms and claimed that some drivers were radioing their offices with fake bookings as cover.
“I personally have been verbally abused and goaded by some of these rogue drivers,” he said.
“One even said to me, ‘Come on, man, everybody does it.
“‘We don’t get caught because Bournemouth council doesn’t care.’”
But Cllr Andrew Morgan, chair of the licensing committee, said: “There has been enforcement action in recent months.
“We have had drivers in here who have lost their licences because of the things that you are referring to.”
He ordered an urgent report to be drafted for consideration at the next meeting of the licensing committee on Tuesday, April 26.
Speaking after the meeting, taxi driver, Richard Elson, said the problem had worsened during his eight-year career.
“It’s like any law – if you don’t enforce it, it isn’t worth the paper it’s written on,” he said.
TAXI drivers in Bournemouth say passengers are being put at risk by rogue operators.
A group of drivers for United Taxis say that cars from outside the borough are hijacking their pick-ups by collecting passengers that have booked with them.
They say the problem is with private hire cars, which must be booked in advance – if a passenger gets in a private hire car that hasn’t been booked they will not be insured.
Driver Duncan Craig said: “It’s a public safety issue. If a guy is prepared to break the law to pick people up illegally, what else is he prepared to do?
“These companies are taking off their door signs and posing as if they’re us. There’s plenty that are legitimate, but some are out of control.
“We’re turning up for a job and seeing them move off. It’s the same guys operating every Friday and Saturday night.
“They know they can get away with it because it’s not being policed.
“If you pick up a passenger that you’ve not got a booking for, the passenger will not be insured. It also costs us a lot of money because we will be waiting for a job for half an hour sometimes.
“If the driver has a crash, passengers haven’t got a leg to stand on, they can’t sue the insurance company because they’re not insured.”
Duncan will be making a deputation at a council licensing board meeting tomorrow.
He has already spoken to licensing bosses, but he says he was told the council could not afford to police the problem.
Fellow driver Richard Elsam added: “It’s a matter of public protection.”
Keith Evans, licensing officer at Bournemouth Borough Council, said: “A group of taxi drivers came to the Town Hall on Monday to alert me to this issue. I am aware that they will be making a deputation to the licensing board on Thursday, who will of course listen to and consider these concerns.”
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.”
A FORMER private hire driver from Birmingham has been banned from driving after illegally allowing a customer to get into his car when she hadn’t pre-booked the cab.
Amar Aftab, 28, of Heathfield Road, Handsworth, was parked outside The Village nightclub in the city centre’s Hurst Street in July last year when he was approached by a customer wanting to be taken home, Birmingham Magistrates Court heard.
Christine Howrie, prosecuting, said: “The woman agreed with Mr Aftab a fare of £10 but when they got to their destination there was an altercation between the defendant and his customer over the fare and she ended up reporting the incident to the police.”
Defending himself, Aftab, who had been found guilty of the two offences in his absence at a previous court hearing, said: “I thought the firm I worked for had a contract with The Village to pick up customers leaving there and take them home.”
However, the magistrates said they had “no choice” but to ban Aftab from driving for six months as he had two prior driving convictions.
Aftab was also fined £200 for plying for hire and £250 for driving without insurance and ordered to pay £200 court costs.
Five private hire drivers could lose their licences after they were caught illegally plying for trade.
During a three hour operation conducted by police and Watford Borough Council, drivers picking up passengers without first booking them through their operator were pulled over.
They were then questioned by officers and council workers, who checked their vehicle documents such as road tax, insurance and MOT.
All five vehicles were then impounded as officers were not satisfied they were being driven in accordance with their insurance. Only hackney carriages licensed by Watford Borough Council can pick up passengers without pre-booking.
The drivers, who work for companies in London, Hertsmere and Three Rivers, will now be considered for prosecution by the council. Seven other drivers are also currently being considered for legal action.
Councillor Jan Brown, chairman of the council’s licensing committee, said: “This is the latest in a series of operations under the banner of ‘Altogether..a good night out in Watford’.
“People going out at night should make sure they only use licensed taxis, or genuinely pre-booked private hire vehicles. Passengers who might have used any of the vehicles caught in last week’s operation might not have been insured in the event of an accident, and – particularly in the case of the driver from London – ripped off by drivers who in all likelihood do not know the local area as well as Watford drivers.”
For more information telephone Jeffrey Leib, Watford Borough Council Licensing Manager, on 01923 278503 or email