An unlicensed cabbie who may have been illegally picking up fares for MONTHS walked from court with a suspended prison sentence.
Amber Athill, for Cherwell District Council, told Oxford Crown Court on Friday (February 3) there was information fake taxi driver Aamer Aziz, 44, had been working for a ‘carriage company’.
“He also had, in fact, a contract with a local school and he was dropping off children at school,” she added.
However, he was only charged with illegally plying for hire on a single date – May 14, 2022 – when a police officer stopped him in Weeping Cross, Bodicote, after noting his Skoda Superb had not been taxed since late 2020.
A visibly frustrated Judge Maria Lamb told the prosecutor that she could sentence only on the charge that had been laid by the council and admitted by Aziz. “I would encourage those who charge in these sorts of circumstances to bear that in mind,” she said.
Earlier, Ms Athill said that when Aziz was stopped, the hackney carriage licence attached to his car and ostensibly advertising the fact he was licensed by Bromsgrove District Council was found to be a flimsy piece of laminated paper.
The driver had previously held a taxi licence with the Worcestershire council. But it was revoked in 2019 over concerns that Aziz’s car was in a dangerous condition; he had tried to cover up safety warning lights on the dashboard.
He was not insured to carry paying passengers. On the day of the police stop he was seen to drop off a customer, who had paid around £10 for the journey.
Aziz, of Himley Close, Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court to fraud by false representation, illegally plying for hire and driving without insurance. He had no previous convictions.
Asking the judge not to send his client to prison immediately, Derek Barry said Aziz was struggling financially. His wife did not work, he had a son to support and large mortgage repayments.
He had ‘expressed real remorse’, Mr Barry said. “He is a man who realises what he did was criminal and it is criminal for a reason.”
Imposing four months’ imprisonment suspended for two years, Judge Lamb said: “The fact that you got yourself into dire financial straits in no way excuses the way in which you have behaved.
“What you did was very serious and I have no hesitation in saying that it passes what is called the custody threshold.
“I am careful to limit myself to the matter with which you have been charged and to take no further what I know to be the surrounding circumstances which speak greatly to your discredit.
“What you did by displaying those false details was a very significant piece of criminal offending. It risked the safety of those who were carried within your vehicle, although it’s not suggested there was any particular bad driving that day, and it risked the safety of others on the road because of course you were not insured.”
Aziz was ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work, up to 36 rehabilitation activity requirement days, pay £500 in costs and was banned from the roads for six months.
This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.
To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk
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