Terror ordeal of taxi driver's passengers

A Wigan taxi driver who terrified two young women passengers and demanded money from a cash machine has been spared jail.

Mansour Ghaemi, of Swinley Road, Swinley, was issued with a 16-week prison sentence which has been suspended for 18 months after a trial at Wigan Magistrates’ Court found him guilty of two counts of using threatening and abusive behaviour to cause distress and alarm.

Sarah Perkins, prosecuting, said that on August 1 last year, Jenna Matthews, 20, and her sister, Harriet Collinson, 19, were travelling in a taxi driven by Ghaemi.

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But the 39-year-old soon locked the vehicle and became verbally abusive. He then demanded that they go with him to a cash machine, taking £50 from them.

Reading a victim impact statement from one of the women, Ms Perkins said: “The way he made demands and took me to a cash machine against my will filled me with total panic. My sister was crying and felt degraded when he was calling us names. She felt he was treating us as inferior and second class to him.

“I don’t believe he would have spoken to us in that way if there were other men in the car. I was most terrified.”

She added that Ghaemi has no previous convictions, but has a caution for being aggressive towards a police officer. He also received a warning letter from Wigan Council’s licencing department last May after a passenger complained about his abusive behaviour, which he denied. He was also given a verbal warning following reports of inappropriate behaviour.

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James Parry, defending, said: “The threats and insults made in the taxi were clearly unpleasant and were over a 30-minute period. There have been two allegations made about him by other passengers but there are no findings that was true and he was not sacked. There is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty on those.

“He chose not to renew his licence and the fact he no longer is a taxi driver is a punishment.”

Ghaemi, who is now a recruitment consultant, was also ordered to pay £800 court costs, £80 victim surcharge, £50 compensation to Ms Matthews and Collins, plus £50 that he took from them. He also has to carry out 300 hours’ unpaid work, with a rehabilitation activation requirement.

The magistrates’ chairman said: “You deliberately isolated your victims and there was potential for this to escalate in violence.”

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After the hearing, Wigan Council reguatory services chief Julie Middlehurst said: “We take all complaints very seriously and will investigate and take action where necessary, including referral of some matters to the Regulation Committee for their decision.

“In this case the committee were aware of the ongoing police investigation, and as such felt it appropriate to await the outcome of this prosecution. As Mr Ghaemi’s licence expired on February 26, there is no longer the need for the committee to consider the matter further, as Mr Ghaemi is no longer licensed to drive a taxi.”

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