Edmonton

Former St. Albert cab driver pleads guilty to child luring

A former St. Albert cab driver has pleaded guilty to one count of child luring.

'Any man can be tempted if a 15 year old texted him,’ accused told police

The St. Albert taxi company that was owned by Imam Buksh. (Imam Buksh/R5 Taxi )

A 70-year-old former St. Albert taxi driver has pleaded guilty to one count of child luring. 

Imam Buksh admitted in court that in April 2018 he communicated with a person he believed was under the age of 16 for a sexual purpose. 

He exchanged 775 text messages with an undercover police officer who was pretending to be a 15-year-old girl named Char.

The undercover operation was launched after Crimestoppers received a tip in January 2018 alleging Buksh was giving free taxi rides to girls and buying them alcohol and food. 

The Northern Alberta Internet Child Exploitation Unit interviewed a 15-year-old girl, whose name is protected by a court-ordered publication ban. 

She told police she met Buksh in late 2017 when she and her friends were leaving a party and called for a cab. He didn't charge them for the ride and she took another 10 free rides from him afterwards. 

Buksh "made comments that [she] found inappropriate and made her uncomfortable," according to an agreed statement of facts entered this week in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench.

'Like I am James Dean' 

According to a report prepared by police, an undercover officer first made contact with Buksh by text on April 2, 2018. Six minutes later, Buksh wrote, "Hey how much do you charge for a good good kiss (just kidding)."

Two days later, he asked Char for a photo and wondered what size she was. 

When the officer sent him a black-and-white stock photo of a girl wearing a ball cap, Buksh told her he kissed the picture "13 times and counting." 

His texting became graphic and sexually explicit. He pledged his undying loyalty to Char a week after contact was first initiated. 

"You are the love of my life now," he wrote. "I won't let anyone take me away from you."

Buksh soon agreed to a meeting at a St. Albert Tim Hortons. 

He drove there thinking he was going to pick up a 15-year-old girl. Instead, he was arrested and his cellphone was seized.

On the phone, police found more than 750 text messages exchanged between the first victim and Buksh. 

"I wanted to touch you tonight," one message read. "I don't care who's there I will do something crazy ... kiss you like I am James Dean." 

 
The St. Albert Tim Hortons where Imam Buksh was arrested after an undercover investigation in 2018. (Yelp)

"Any man can be tempted if a 15-year-old girl texted him," Buksh told police after he was arrested, according to the agreed statement of facts.

He was originally charged with five sex-related offences in April 2018. 

'I didn't do anything'

A website for Buksh's company, R5 Taxi and Courier Service, is still online. 

Court records show Buksh is not allowed to have unsupervised contact or communication with anyone under the age of 16. 

CBC News called the phone number listed on the website and Buksh answered the phone. He said his company is no longer operational and that he retired late last year.

"The City of St. Albert don't allow me to operate," he said.

Asked about his guilty plea, Buksh said, "I'm not guilty, but my lawyer wanted me to. I didn't do anything. It was the police officer who started it." 

He asked CBC News to not publish a story about his case because it would upset his sick wife. 

"I didn't do anything," he said. "If nobody called me, I'd be working hard, living my life." 

Buksh remains free on bail. He will be sentenced in November.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston

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