Published on 12th January 2017
A London Uber driver has been prosecuted by the council for unlawfully plying for hire in Cheltenham on Tuesday 9 January 2017.
The defendant, Mr Abdifatah Hagi Abdikadir, from Emanuel Avenue in London, initially pleaded not guilty in Cheltenham Magistrate’s court on 17 October 2016 and consequently a trial hearing was scheduled for 9 January 2017.
On Thursday 17 March 2016 the defendant, Mr Abdikadir, was parked in the vicinity of Cheltenham Spa railway station at around 12:14. A group of males approached the defendant’s vehicle and after a short exchange got in and the vehicle and it drove off.
Further enquiries by the council revealed that the defendant was licensed by Transport for London as a private hire driver.
The defendant was interviewed under caution and stated, as his defence, that the four men witnessed getting into his vehicle were doing so to give him directions to a nearby carpark where we was waiting to pick up a booked fare later in the day.
At the trial hearing the Magistrates found the defendant’s explanation implausible.
The Magistrates believed that the defendant was plying for hire at Cheltenham train station. They concluded that the train station was 3 miles away from his previous drop off and he had no booking to be there.
Furthermore the Magistrates also found that evidence presented have shown that the car parks were extensively signposted nearby his initial drop off point and there was therefore no need to drive 3 miles through heavy traffic to find one.
Consequently, the defendant was found guilty and fined £1500 and also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £150 and costs of £1000.
Councillor Andy McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety, said: “This is the fifth successful prosecution by the council of a driver who tried to unlawfully ply their hire in Cheltenham.
“This puts public safety and protection at risk because there is no assurance that these drivers are properly vetted, their vehicles are fit for use and they are not insured to do what they are doing.
“As we begin to plan for this year’s Gold Cup Festival week this should serve as a stark reminder that the council will catch unlicensed drivers and bring them to justice.”
Sarah Hughes, licensing enforcement officer, said: “These prosecutions give a warning to drivers who wish to capitalise on the additional footfall to Cheltenham during Gold Cup week that we will take action should they operate unlawfully. This is just another example of a driver being prosecuted by the council for operating unlawfully during Cheltenham Gold Cup week and as a result we will continue to put additional staff on the streets during major races to monitor such activity.”
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