AN Ashton taxi driver, who failed a drugs test, lost his appeal to Tameside Magistrates Court to win back his private hire vehicles operator’s licence.
Ali Raja Owais, of Katherine Street, whose licence was revoked on December 4, 2019, was also hit with a £695 bill for costs.
Ashleigh Melia, who was representing Tameside Council, told magistrates that Owais first came to the attention of the local authority on March 8, 2019 when he took his vehicle for its six-monthly check at their Tame Street depot.
A mechanic alerted regulatory services manager (licensing) Mike Robinson believing cannabis had been smoked in the vehicle prior to inspection.
Owais denied taking cannabis and explained two friends, who he had picked up on his way to Dane Street, were the culprits. He was let off with a warning.
Fast forward to December 3, 2019 and the licensing department and Greater Manchester Police were carrying out compliance checks on private hire vehicles when Owais was randomly stopped.
Miss Melia explained an inspection of the vehicle discovered several cannabis grinders, a quantity of the drug and eye drops in the door storage compartment.
Owais confirmed the cannabis was for personal use and he was given an initial warning by police. When a roadside drugs test was taken and proved positive, he was arrested and his licence revoked the following day.
Miss Melia said: “It was in the interests of public safety to revoke the licence as he was driving having taken cannabis.
“He was being dishonest when he said he had never smoked cannabis and Tameside Council say he is not a fit and proper person and you (magistrates) should revoke the licence.”
Mr Robinson, providing evidence about the incident on March 8, 2019, told magistrates he was convinced Owais had been smoking cannabis as his eyes were red.
He said he could smell cannabis, but no drugs were found in the vehicle, though other drug paraphernalia was discovered.
Mr Robinson had wanted Owais to be given a drug test on that occasion, but no police officers were available to carry it out and he was issued with a warning.
Referring to the taxi driver spot checks carried out on December 3, 2019, Mr Robinson said he went to the door pocket to look the driver’s check book they must carry only to discover cannabis grinders, a small quantity of the drug and eye drops.
He said: “When the drug test was positive, he was arrested and taken to the police station and we immediately revoked the licence which we had the power to do on the grounds of public safety.
“He had taken cannabis, cannabis was found in the vehicle and in the interests of public safety Tameside Council revoked his licence.”
Owais, who represented himself, told magistrates: “Passengers left things in my car all the time.
“I have found phones, drugs, money. This is Tameside. A lot of druggies leave things, especially on a Friday or Saturday night.”
Owais added eye drops were in the car because he needed them when working long hours.
He also accused Mr Robinson and PC Nixon of planting the drugs and cannabis grinders in his vehicle.
Owais told magistrates losing his licence had “ruined my life” and he was working 45 hours each week in a takeaway tom support his family.
Chair of the bench, Pauline Taylor said: “We have carefully considered the evidence and we don’t accept your allegations against the police officer and Mr Robinson which are unfounded. The appeal is not granted.”