Beds, Herts & Bucks

St Albans taxi driver jailed for £150,000 council con

A St Albans taxi driver has been jailed for 10 months for conning the county council out of more than £150,000 in fake taxi journeys for the vulnerable.

Waqar Khan, 29, of Westbourne Road, Luton, sent bogus invoices in relation to a schoolgirl and a man with learning difficulties.

Khan denied two charges of converting criminal property and one of transferring criminal property.

He was convicted by a jury at St Albans Crown Court last month.

Prosecutor Laura Blackband told the court that between 2003 and 2006, Khan billed Hertfordshire County Council for legitimate journeys, taking the young girl to the local school and back and the man to Digswell Nursery.

For each return trip he earned a daily rate of anything between £48.50 and £100 - an agreed rate between the council and Khan.

'Taken advantage'

The agreement was cancelled in December 2006 but he continued to invoice the council for £150,000 in taxi services.

Ms Blackband told the jury that Khan seized the opportunity to earn illegal money when the council mistakenly contacted him in July 2007 asking where his invoices were for the last seven months.

"At that stage Khan realised that the council were operating at fault, they didn't realise that they shouldn't have been asking about these journeys," she said.

"He has effectively taken advantage of that and made up all these invoices and billed the council for them."

Khan then sent in a string of backdated invoices for trips that had never occurred, which continued into 2008, it was alleged.

He told the jury that he had acted "honestly, reliably and accurately", saying another person in his office did the invoicing.

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