TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2018
It turns out the Uber driver who told a 14-year-old girl she "looked hot and had nice lips" hours after he told another female passenger he could satisfy her needs, had a previous conviction and three previous complaints for improper behaviour...a court heard.
Again we've seen Uber failing to pass on sexual complaints to either TfL or the Police.
Spyros Ntounis, 35, slowed his car down to 5mph so he could have more time with the teenager after she used the app to book a journey home from a night out at a friend's home.
Allister Walker, prosecuting, said the driver told the girl she "looked hot and had nice lips" while driving her to Kingston-upon-Thames in southwest London.
Ntounis then gave the girl some chewing gum, before giving her his mobile number after she told him she did not have an Uber app.
The next morning Ntounis started sending WhatsApp messages to the schoolgirl asking if she was okay and offered to 'give her lessons' in anything she wanted.
Ntounis sent her messages asking when they could next meet up, then quizzed her on whether he had 'passed the age test', jurors at Kingston Crown Court heard.
The teenager showed her parents, who urged her to block him on Whatsapp and contact the police.
Ntounis, of Drayton Green Road, West Ealing, denied but was convicted of attempting to meet a girl under 16 years of age following grooming.
It came out in court that the driver had faced three complaints from previous female passengers.
• A woman contacted Uber after Ntounis told her he felt 'horny' on October 8, 2016.
• Another complaint was lodged in November 2016 after Ntounis started talking to a passenger about 'inappropriate things'.
• The third complaint was made on April 21 las year, just hours before Ntounis targeted the 14-year-old girl. The passenger said Ntounis asked her if he could "'satisfy her needs".
Three complaints yet Uber took no action and failed to pass on these serious complaints to TfL Ntounis' private hire licence was only suspended as a result of the forth allegation.
Judge Timothy Lamb QC said: "It's troubling the circumstances of this offence. Particularly considering I heard about his previous behaviour in his Uber car that the jury didn't hear about.
"His service was dispensed with by Uber but again, only after the three complaints by ladies about his conversation in the car."
How was this driver licensed by TfL with a previous conviction?
Was he one of Helen Chapman's 13,000 Uber drivers with fake DBS checks swept under TFL's carpet?
Ntounis previous conviction of dishonesty was from October 2014, for which he was handed a 12 month suspended sentence for 24 months, but was still given a TfL licence???
Judge Lamb bailed Ntounis ahead of sentence on March 19 but said: "You have been convicted by a jury, I need a report from you.
"I will give you your liberty this time but I wouldn't assume that because I let you go today that you have avoided a custodial sentence. Could be prison in four weeks."
Inspector Jas Sandhu, Met's Roads and Transport Policing Command said: "The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) will not tolerate any offences committed upon passengers of private hire vehicles and will robustly pursue offenders. Bit late though as this was his second conviction and had three complaints for sexual harassment.
"Thanks to the actions by the latest victim and her family instigating the Met's investigation, a dangerous individual's actions have been stopped from going any further."
Siwan Hayward, Transport for London's Head of Transport Policing, said: "We take all allegations against licensed Taxi and Private Hire drivers extremely seriously and as soon as we were made aware of this offence we suspended this driver's licence immediately.
Siwan, this driver should have never been licensed in the first place, this was a result of scandalous inadequate performance by TfL !
"As this case shows, reporting any behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable is very important. It will be taken seriously (eventually) and by working closely with the police we will fully investigate all allegations, bring offenders to justice and push for the toughest penalties possible."
Four complaints were made to Uber yet they took no action against their driver. The action was only taken when a complaint was made to the police.