A TAXI firm in Sheffield has moved to allay fears after one of its drivers was found guilty of sexually attacking two lone women passengers and trying to ply them with drugs.
‘Predatory’ minicab driver Zahoor Mahmood has been warned he faces a long prison sentence after jurors at Sheffield Crown Court found him guilty of two sexual assaults and charges of false imprisonment.
Today, a spokesman for City Taxis, which employed Mahmood, said: “We are fully committed to passenger safety. All drivers who work for City Taxis are licensed by Sheffield Council and as part of their licensing process they regularly have to undertake an enhanced criminal records bureau check.
“As part of our commitment to passenger safety, we ask that all customers pre-book their taxi journeys.
“This results in a free text to any customer booking by mobile telephone, providing the full vehicle details, including registration plate.
“All booked journeys, whether it be by landline or mobile, are logged and tracked by GPS to ensure passenger safety.”
Hafeas Rehman, chairman of Sheffield Taxi Trade Association, added Mahmood was a ‘rogue’ who had given taxi drivers in the city a bad name.
He said: “A lot of drivers are up in arms about this and we want to reassure people they are safe and that licences aren’t given out willy nilly.
“Drivers have to undergo rigorous checks.”
He urged customers to ensure they either catch black cabs at taxi ranks, or take pre-booked minicabs.
He said: “If you’ve booked a minicab never give the driver your name – get him to tell you who has booked the cab, and make a note of the licence number.
“Hackney carriage drivers and private hire drivers must display photo identification, so use your phone to take a note of the licence number and driver.”
Sheffield Crown Court heard Mahmood was caught after his second victim – a 17-year-old girl – alerted the police during her ordeal last year.
Police tracked her mobile telephone call for half an hour while she pretended she was on the phone to a friend.
When she got out of the cab she gave police the car’s registration number and Mahmood, of Balfour Road, Darnall, Sheffield, was later arrested.
He had picked both women up after nights out in Sheffield.
He took them to secluded locations before offering them drugs and attacking them. Both victims resisted his advances.
Adjourning the case for six weeks so psychiatric reports could be compiled on Mahmood, Judge Simon Lawler QC told him: “You have shown no remorse and labelled everyone a liar and said the 17-year-old was feigning her distress.
“You are devious, dishonest, glib and think you have an answer for everything and the jury has seen through your tissue of lies.
“I am satisfied you are a sexual predator and a potential danger to women.”
He added: “When two young women, alone and vulnerable, came into your taxi, you used your position as a cab driver to hold them.
“You tried to make them take cocaine. They resisted. You tried to take advantage of them. You made a sexual advance on them which they rebuffed.
“You seem to think women are easy prey.”