Taxi driver faked holdup to feed gambling addiction

A GAMBLING-ADDICTED Ingham taxi driver who faked a robbery that triggered a time-consuming police investigation has been convicted of stealing from his employer.

Police prosecutor Codie Rowe, appearing in the Ingham Magistrates Court this morning, said Ingham man Gregory Allan Assan, 55, was lucky he was not facing additional charges in relation to the incident on March 27.

"Mr Assan is fortunate there are no further charges," Mr Rowe said to Magistrate Peter Smid.

"In terms of wasting police time?" Magistrate Smid asked.

"Yes," Mr Rowe replied.

According to the court brief, Assan was working a shift for Ingham Cabs and called police claiming two people he picked up at Coles supermarket had robbed him of his cash bag containing $700 in the Woolworths car park at 7.30pm.

Police responded to what they believed was an emergency situation but failed to locate the alleged offenders, it read.

Assan attended a formal interview the next day, March 28, with police still believing "he was a victim."

During the course of the interview, Assan provided descriptions of the purported robbers but was unable to provide the phone number that was used to book the cab.

"He was also hesitant to explain to police how the CCTV system within the taxi operates," the court brief stated

The brief said it was at this point a "police investigation commenced" with police obtaining CCTV recordings from a number of Ingham businesses and Department of Transport and Main Roads.

The recordings from Coles and the department did not corroborate Assan's version of events, the brief said.

"The CCTV footage provided clearly shows that the events outlined in the defendant's statement did not occur," it said.

The brief said Assan went back to the Ingham Police Station about 10 days after the incident and asked to submit to an electronic interview.

"He declined and immediately sought legal advice," the brief said.

"Police believed him to have made a false complaint (and) the defendant has maintained his right to silence."

Defence lawyer Solitaire Zahnleiter said that her client was currently the primary caregiver for three children, aged 13, 12 and 11, was no longer employed by Ingham Cabs and was seeking work as a labourer.

"I am instructed that at the time of the offending it was a difficult time, he was suffering from gambling addiction, pressure and anxiety," she said, adding that Assan had committed to further gambling addiction counselling.

She said a sentence of community service would allow her client "to pay back the community."

Magistrate Smid ordered Assan to pay Ingham Cabs $700 compensation and sentenced him to 60 hours community service.

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