Bristol cabbie who lost licence after wheelchair passenger accident fails in latest bid to win it back
‘His conduct fell far short of what is expected of him as a licensed driver.’
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A taxi driver who lost his licence after a passenger suffered a head injury when his wheelchair fell over during a journey has lost his latest bid to regain it.
Jalil Mohammad applied to have his hackney carriage driver’s licence reinstated just weeks after Bristol city councillors refused to give him back his vehicle permit.
He had his licence revoked by the local authority following the accident in 2019 and has unsuccessfully appealed in the magistrates court twice since then.
Bristol City Council public safety and protection sub-committee has now refused his latest application in April this year for a taxi driver’s licence after a failed bid to the panel two months earlier to get his vehicle plate back, according to recently published minutes of the private hearing.
Mr Mohammad had “refused to secure the wheelchair” before the trip from Temple Meads station three years ago which led to disabled pensioner Barry Sowden toppling backwards in it and hitting his head.
The 76-year-old passenger, who has since died of unrelated causes, had undergone brain surgery seven months earlier and was on special medication, so was taken to hospital for a CT scan.
Three character witnesses vouched for the driver at the latest hearing at City Hall on April 19, including a Bristol Temple Meads supervisor, mosque chairman and boss of a funeral firm.
Mr Mohammad, a licensed driver for more than 20 years, told members the medical statement about the wheelchair accident showed it was a “minor issue” and that the sub-committee had been “misled” over its seriousness, the minutes said.
He said he had committed some offences in his early days but had paid the price for these.
But the panel was not satisfied the cabbie was a fit and proper person to hold a licence because of a catalogue of complaints and incidents between 2002 and 2019.
‘Catalogue’ of complaints prior to accident
These included dangerous driving and overcharging a passenger in 2002 which resulted in his licence being revoked, and appeals at the magistrates court and crown court were subsequently dismissed.
Two years later he behaved inappropriately towards a woman he was delivering medication to, including scratching her palm and phoning to ask her out for a drink after finding her number on the prescription.
That resulted in licence applications being refused and court appeals dismissed, the records said.
In 2007 he received a caution for “persistently soliciting a woman for prostitution” from a vehicle or causing annoyance/nuisance to others.
Mr Mohammad was granted a taxi driver’s licence the following year, but there were three complaints made against him from 2008 to 2010 which were “resolved by way of advice letters or no further action” after he refunded a passenger he overcharged, said the minutes.
His licence was revoked again in 2013 because of a police caution for soliciting, which he unsuccessfully failed to overturn before magistrates and a crown court judge.
The cabbie was granted a hackney carriage driver’s licence in 2015 after the sub-committee heard he was “rehabilitated” over the soliciting offence, although the panel warned him about his future behaviour.
Three years later Mr Mohammad was accused of using his mobile phone while driving with a passenger in the car and “also driving into a barrier”.
The minutes said he was investigated by the police, “however, due to errors and prosecution deadlines not being met the matter was discontinued with no further action”.
The 2019 complaint about the wheelchair toppling over and Mr Sowden hitting his head was upheld and his licence was revoked on the grounds of public safety.
The minutes of the latest hearing, which refer to Mr Mohammad as JM, said his conduct on that occasion was “at the very least grossly negligent but his demeanour and attitude towards the passengers had also been found wanting”.
They said his record “demonstrated a pattern of inappropriate behaviour”.
“The sub-committee found that JM’s representative minimised the most recent incident in 2019 by stating that the hospital report shows that there was a minor traumatic brain injury and was discharged, and that the only reason he is before the sub-committee is because of a little accident,” the council papers say.
“This demonstrates that the severity of the matter is not understood. JM’s conduct fell far short of what is expected of him as a licensed driver.”
They said that while his character references showed some “impressive positive aspects”, there was “no escaping the fact that JM has a long and tainted record”.
“Given JM’s abysmal record as a licensee the sub-committee must consider whether he can be entrusted with the members of the public in a professional driving capacity.
“JM has been given numerous opportunities to improve his behaviour and conduct himself in a professional manner between 2002 and 2019 and the sub-committee cannot be satisfied that JM can be licenced in such a way that will ensure the safety and protection of the public,” they added.