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Wednesday, 14 March, 2001, 14:21 GMT
Taxi driver faces jail for fuel hoarding

The taxi driver has admitted unlawfully storing petrol
A taxi driver has been told he could face jail for dangerously hoarding petrol at his home during last year's fuel crisis.

Saqib Bashir, 28, of Derby, had already pleaded guilty to keeping the petrol at a house he was renovating when it leaked from containers, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents.

At Derby Magistrates court last month, Mr Bashir admitted four charges relating to the unlawful storage of petrol and one of failing in his duty of care under health and safety laws.

Richard Thatcher, prosecuting on behalf of Derby City Council's trading standards department, told the court on Wednesday that Mr Bashir faced a maximum two years imprisonment.

He also faces an unlimited fine for keeping petrol without a licence.

The father-of-three was due to be sentenced at Derby Crown Court on Wednesday but Judge John Wait allowed the matter to be adjourned until 4 April for a report to be prepared.

'Gross stupidity'

The judge told Mr Bashir: "You have been committed to this court for a series of serious offences.

"I am bound to consider a custodial sentence."

David Leathley, defending Mr Bashir, said his client had been badly affected by the court proceedings and had been "submitted to hospital for three days as he was suffering from depression".

In what magistrates described as an "act of gross stupidity", he stored the petrol in three containers at a house he was renovating in Porter Road in the city.

But fuel melted the bottom of a plastic dustbin and leaked into the house last September, causing dozens of homes to be evacuated for fear of an explosion.

At last month's magistrate hearing, the court was told that Mr Bashir, from the Normanton area of Derby, hoarded the petrol to "ensure a continuity of supply" in order to safeguard his livelihood.

Derby City Council estimate the cost of the operation and the resulting clean-up could cost more than 130,000.

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