A Glasgow cab driver caught with cocaine, etizolam and cannabis in his car has been allowed to keep his licence after he blamed customers for leaving two of them and claimed police target black people.
Mahmoud Abdelgader pleaded guilty to failing to stop at red traffic lights in the city and having the drugs in his possession at court on September 3.
Police Scotland had objected to the renewal of his licence, claiming he was not a fit and proper person to hold one.
Appearing before Glasgow City Council’s licensing committee last week, Abdelgader admitted the cannabis was his, but claimed passengers had left the cocaine and etizolam.
Mr Abdelgader was allowed to keep his private hire licence for a year with a severe warning.
The father-of-four said: “I made a mistake. The police stopped me – I see racial profiling there.”
He told the committee police are “targeting black people” but was told to take the issue up with Police Scotland by convenor Alex Wilson.
Commenting further on the incident when he was stopped on July 26, 2020, Mr Abdelgader said: “This happened during corona time in special circumstances.”
He told councillors he had been living in his car at the time after moving out from his house.
The committee heard the quantities of the illegal substances were at personal use amounts – and not dealing levels.
Mr Abdelgader, who has been a licensed driver for three years, admitted he was taking cannabis but not the other substances.
Councillor Wilson asked Mr Abdelgader if he only took cannabis, why did he have cocaine and etizolam in his possession.
He replied: “I’m a taxi driver – people throw them there. You find them under the seat. I never took them.”
Councillor Wilson said: “You have admitted driving a vehicle while having taken cannabis. That is an offence.”
Councillor Gary Gray said: “I don’t for a second buy your story that it must have been left in the car by a customer. I take exception that you try to insult this committee’s intelligence on that. You have been found guilty of this issue.”
Mr Abdelgader said: “I’m telling the truth whether you blame me or not.”
Explaining his financial responsibilities, he said: “I’m a father of four. I’m the breadwinner. This has happened once and it will never happen again. If you can give me a chance.”
He told the committee he is now back living at home with his wife.
Councillor Wilson said: “You have caused this committee a great deal of concern with the fact you were carrying drugs in your car and admitted to having drugs in your car.”
Councillors decided to grant the licence for a restricted period of one year with a warning issued regarding the applicant’s future conduct.
Councillor Elspeth Kerr disagreed.
By local democracy reporter Sarah Hilley