Taxi driver fails to win back licence after wheelchair incident

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Jalil Mohammad applied to renew his hackney carriage licence which was revoked by the city council following the accident in 2019

A Bristol taxi driver who lost his licence after a passenger suffered a head injury when his wheelchair toppled over inside the taxi has failed in a bid to regain his vehicle badge.

Jalil Mohammad applied to renew his hackney carriage licence which was revoked by the city council following the accident in 2019, a decision upheld by magistrates on appeal in January 2020 and again last November.

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A recent meeting of the local authority’s public safety and protection sub-committee heard the driver had “refused to secure the wheelchair”, which led to disabled pensioner Barry Sowden falling backwards in it and hitting his head.

The 76-year-old passenger, who has since died from unrelated causes, had undergone brain surgery seven months earlier and was on special medication, so had to be taken to hospital for a CT scan to check for serious damage.

At the latest hearing, Bristol city councillors heard Mr Mohammad wanted his taxi permit back so he could rent out his vehicle to other cabbies.

The taxi driver had refused to secure the wheelchair in his cabThe taxi driver had refused to secure the wheelchair in his cab
The taxi driver had refused to secure the wheelchair in his cab | Google Maps

The sub-committee, which met in private at City Hall, was told “the character of the individual was important in this instance” and that national standards stated people holding a vehicle licence “must pose no risk to the public”.

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According to the minutes of the meeting, Mr Mohammad told the panel he always made sure safety was taken into account and had completed all relevant courses on safeguarding passengers and wheelchair safety, according to recently published minutes from the hearing on February 22.

He said he had made a mistake in the past but had paid the price for that, and no complaint had been made against him subsequently.

But councillors refused the application after ruling again the driver was “not a fit and proper person” to hold a licence.

They told him: “Although we acknowledge that you have not been convicted of any criminal offence, your track record as a licensee with the council is extremely poor whereby you have been found wanting concerning your conduct towards passengers and your safety as a driver.

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“We echo the findings of the magistrates court in a very recent appeal that was heard on November 30, 2021.

“The incident causing injury to the wheelchair user was significant. We do not discount evidence of witnesses who say other fares were carried safely but this one incident shows that there is not a safe service for everyone.

“We appreciate your willingness to learn from mistakes but these should not have been made in the first place. We therefore find that you are not a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

“Even though you are currently leasing the vehicle to a third party, the committee is not satisfied that you should be entrusted in ensuring that third parties adhere to the rules.”

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The minutes from the exempt session give only his initials, JM, which is standard council practice for hearings held behind closed doors, but the Local Democracy Reporting Service has confirmed it is Mr Mohammad.

They show his previous history includes a revocation in 2001 for driving dangerously and not using the meter, a complaint by an elderly lady in 2004 “to whom he had delivered medication that he had scratched her hand and asked her out for a drink”, and complaints of overcharging and using a mobile phone without hands while driving in 2008.

He failed to declare having been arrested for conspiring to supply drugs in March 2018 and had been cautioned in 2007 and 2012 for soliciting a woman for prostitution, the minutes say.

The late Mr Sowden was a great-grandfather who had travelled by train with his wife Margaret from North Lincolnshire for their grandson’s wedding in Bristol.

He was injured after Mr Mohammad failed to secure him properly in his vehicle during a journey from Temple Meads.

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