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Cabbie wins licence bid.

Byline: By Adam Jupp

A cabbie with a violent past has overturned a decision to keep him off the streets.

Newcastle City Council blocked Waseem Rafiq's bid to get a hackney carriage driver's licence because of his criminal history.

But the 21-year-old, of Dilston Road, Arthur's Hill, Newcastle, has won his appeal against the ruling and will be free to ferry passengers around the city within weeks.

He said today he has learned the error of his ways and aims to put his past behind him.

Mr Rafiq, who lives at home with his parents, said: "It's been a long time since I committed an offence and I'm a changed man now.

"If you think about being young with your friends, getting up to no good, I've learned it can have an effect on you in later life.

"The things I did in the past were stupid and shouldn't have happened, but I just want to work for myself and put it all behind me."

Gosforth magistrates heard how his criminal record included a July 2001 conviction for carrying an offensive weapon, a telescopic baton.

In August 1999 he was cautioned for criminal damage and in April 2001 was cautioned for violent disorder.

The court heard he had been bound over for using abusive language in January 2003, and in November that year was convicted of speeding on Newcastle's Central Motorway.

But this could not be taken into consideration when deciding whether to grant him a licence as it was not classed as a conviction.

Representing Mr Rafiq at his hearing, Karen Graham, said the city council had been wrong to refuse his application as his convictions for violence were more than three years old.

She said: "They got it completely wrong. They didn't follow their own guidelines and concluded this young man was involved in a pattern of offending, when his last relevant offence was four and a half years ago.

"What he wants is to work to provide for himself. He has a valid driving licence and wants to set about taxiing because that's something he has the facility to do. He regrets the actions of his youth when he was among others."

Melanie Bulman, prosecuting for the council, said: "The council would say that Mr Rafiq is not a fit and proper person.

"He has previous convictions recorded against him for carrying an offensive weapon and cautions for criminal damage and violent disorder, and that demonstrates that he's not a person with the ability to show self restraint."
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 9, 2005
Words:421
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