A Hamilton cab driver has had his taxi license revoked by the city’s licencing tribunal for attempting to extort money from a female passenger after she left her cell phone in his cab.
The decision, made at a recent licencing tribunal meeting, stems from an incident back in October of 2013, when a woman left her phone in a Blue Line cab driven by Wahidullah Wali, according to tribunal documents.
The woman had taken a cab at around 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 30 and later realized she had lost her phone. She then called Blue Line to ask if the driver had picked it up, but he told the company’s dispatch centre he hadn’t, tribunal documents read.
Luckily, the woman had a “find my phone” application on her smartphone that let her track it down and find out that it was, in fact, at Wali’s home.
According to municipal law enforcement officer Paul Sertic’s testimony, the woman contacted Wali and asked for her phone back.
“According to the female, Mr. Wali stated to her that he wanted $50 for the phone,” Sertic told the tribunal. “Mr. Wali had told her that the phone was worth $250 on the black market so $50 to get the phone back was reasonable.”
Wali finally agreed to return the phone for $20, but when he arrived at her house, the woman snatched the phone out of his hand and called police. No criminal charges were laid in the case.
Wali told the tribunal this is the first time he had done something like this, and that it was a “big mistake.”
“I do apologize,” he told the tribunal. “It will never happen again.”
Adjudicator Gary Bishop told the tribunal that Wali’s behaviour brought the taxi industry as a whole into question.
“Through his behaviour he has not only harmed the victim, but the industry,” Bishop said. “The rules are in place to protect everyone.”
The tribunal voted to revoke Wali’s license – a decision that Blue Line Taxi President Anthony Rizzuto applauded. “We shouldn’t tolerate this, period,” he said.
“At the end of the day, the city carries a bigger stick than we do. I support them 100 per cent.”