Killer cabbie on our roads, but law stops us naming him
A Victorian tribunal gives an African refugee a(nother) chance:
AN insane killer who stabbed his wife to death has won the right to drive a taxi but passengers are not allowed to know his identity.
A tribunal granted the man taxi accreditation despite pleas from Victoria’sÂ Director of Public TransportÂ to ban him from the roads.
AÂ Victorian Civil and Administrative TribunalÂ order prevents Melbourne newspaper theÂ Herald SunÂ revealing the name of the driver, known only as ‘XFJ’.
* Â Looks like our minders and activist judges know best what’s good for us.Â Fits in with Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon’s policy ofÂ not acknowledging a problem, I guess. But I wonder whether helping one unfortunate murderer actually hurts the interests of many hundreds of taxi drivers – and especially those of them that are African, too.
Update: A BBC radio presenter who asked a taxi firm not to send a Asian driver has been sacked.Â Sam Mason made the comments while ordering a taxi for her 14-year-old daughter who she said would be “freaked out” by a turban-wearing driver.
VCAT deputy president Michael Macnamara said in his decision that XFJ’s violent history raised a significant safety issue for taxi passengers.
But he ruled the killer could get behind the wheel.
The tribunal heard XFJ, an African refugee, repeatedly knifed his new wife in the head and stomach in a frenzied attack in 1990.
Deeply depressed, he tried to hang himself – but failed when a tree branch broke.
A jury acquitted him of murder on the ground of insanity.
He was detained in a psychiatric institution until his release under supervision about 10 years ago.
The tribunal heard he wants work as a cab driver so he can have more flexibility to care for his young son, who is battling leukemia.
Lawyers for the Director of Public Transport raised the risk of a recurrence of the major depressive disorder that underpinned XFJ’s earlier violence.Â
The stress of dealing with intoxicated or angry passengers might also affect XFJ’s mental state, the tribunal heard.Â
But Mr Macnamara ruled the “apparently blameless life” XFJ had lived since 1990 should outweigh any unease taxi passengers would feel about his violent history.Â
“I accept that the ordinary man in the street would probably say, ‘I would prefer not to have as a taxi driver somebody who has killed in whatever circumstances’,” he said.Â
“On the other hand, the decision that I have to make must be based upon more than mere prejudice. In my view XFJ has established that he is suitable in the relevant respects.”Â
The Director of Public Transport had twice refused to grant XFJ accreditation before the appeal reached VCAT in October.Â
The case is one of the first tests of new state government laws intended to weed out rogue cabbies.Â
Convicted murderers are automatically refused driver accreditation under the new laws.Â
But because XFJ escaped a murder charge with a plea of insanity,Â
he remained eligible for consideration.Â
The tribunal heard XFJ had lived in the community for 10 years and was in good psychiatric health without medication.Â
Two consultant psychiatrists gave “emphatically favourable” evidence, although one conceded XFJ faced a lifetime of vulnerability to depression.Â
Deputy president Mr Macnamara noted in his decision, published on November 21, that XFJ’s violent outburst in 1990 was directed at a family member.Â
“This is a significantly different event from violence directed indiscriminately to strangers, or relative strangers, which passengers in a taxicab would be,” he said.Â
A spokeswoman for the regulator, theÂ Victorian Taxi Directorate, last night could not say whether the Government would appeal against the VCAT decision