Welwyn Garden City taxi driver fined for refusing to take a woman home in the dark and rain

PUBLISHED: 17:14 19 October 2011 | UPDATED: 17:18 19 October 2011




A TAXI driver, who refused to take a woman to her home late at night in the rain, has been slapped with fines and costs of more than £1,000.

Syed Shaheed, 48, of Newark Road, Luton, had, via an Urdu interpreter, denied snubbing Jacqueline Doney’s request to go from Howardsgate to Walden Road – a distance of around 0.7 miles.

He also claimed not to remember the incident, at around 10pm on January 5 this year.

But his protestations cut no ice when he appeared before St Albans magistrates on Monday, and he was found guilty.

The court heard how Mrs Doney had just got off the train at WGC and, not wanting to walk home alone through the woods, had opened the door to Shaheed’s silver VW Sharan, in Howardsgate and attempted to hire him.

Shaheed’s people-carrier was the first cab on the rank, and under the terms of his Hackney Carriage licence it is an offence to refuse a fare to any destination within the Welwyn Hatfield district.

IT worker Mrs Doney told the court: “I went to the taxi rank, to the first taxi on the rank and said ‘can you take me to Walden Road please?’.

“The driver said ‘pardon’ and I said can you take me to Walden Road?’.”

After explaining to Shaheed where her address was, he twice said to her: “I think you should walk.”

Mrs Doney made a note of Shaheed’s number plate ID when she got in the next taxi on the rank, and complained to the council by email.

She later identified Shaheed from a picture of him among another 12 faces.

The court also heard a transcript of Shaheed’s interview with Welwyn Hatfield Council’s Hackney Carriage officer James Vaughan, on January 26, when he was repeatedly told not to shout or raise his voice as he reacted angrily as the evidence was put to him.

Defending, Ann Tayo, said: “Clearly this is a mistake.”

But father-of-four Shaheed, who is the sole breadwinner for his children, wife and ailing mother, was ordered to pay a £250 fine, £15 victim surcharge and the council’s legal costs of £800, by chairman of the bench Alan Burton.

Outside the court Mrs Doney who was left “shocked” at Shaheed’s refusal to take her home, told the WHT: “It was the right verdict.”

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