Banned off-licence boss dashed to shop in horsebox

An off-licence boss banned from driving was caught when he dashed to an emergency at his shop and pulled up behind the police in a horsebox, a court heard.

Wednesday, 6th July 2016, 10:43 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 9:00 pm

Father-of-three Mohazzam Sarwar (37) had gone to the store in Waterfoot to support a lone female assistant said to have been confronted by a shoplifter. The worker had told police her boss couldn’t get to the shop as he was disqualified. So when he arrived at the premises and parked up at the back of a police car they were suspicious and asked him who he was.

Burnley magistrates were told how Sarwar had tried to get someone to take him to the shop, but had been unsuccessful and had then got behind the wheel of the only vehicle to hand – his wife’s horsebox, which was outside their home. He had been ordered off the road for 12 months for drink-driving in January and had completed a drink-drivers’ rehabilitation course.

The defendant could have been locked up for breaking the ban just five months after it was imposed, but was spared. District Judge Meirion Lewis-Jones told him: “I have decided not to impose a custodial sentence because of the circumstances you are in personally.” The judge warned: “Do not be tempted to drive, because if you are caught a second time I am afraid you will be facing prison.”

Sarwar, of Manchester Road, Burnley, admitted driving whilst disqualified on Burnley Road East, Waterfoot, on June 15th. He was given a 12 month community order with 120 hours unpaid work and must pay £85 costs and an £85 victim surcharge. He was banned for three months, on top of his current disqualification.

The hearing was told Sarwar immediately admitted he was a disqualified driver when approached by the police at 6-55pm.

Ben Leech, in mitigation, said Sarwar’s family had owned an off-licence for many years in Crawshawbooth and had recently opened one in Waterfoot.

The defendant employed a driver to take him to work, but he had broken down. Sarwar’s father was not able to help and two local taxi firms told him there would be a wait of 25 to 30 minutes for a cab.

Mr Leech continued: “There had been a shoplifter in the store and it’s suggested there had been a confrontation of sorts with the female working in the shop. The defendant needed to get there relatively quickly. He went to the shop to support his worker.”

The solicitor said: “The only vehicle available to him was his wife’s horsebox, which he got in and drove off. Police were attending the shop and he pulled up behind the police vehicle. The female working in the shop had indicated to police her boss was not around and he couldn’t get to the shop because he was a disqualified driver. Clearly, when he pulled up behind the police vehicle they asked him who he was and he confirmed who he was.”

Mr Leech said the defendant’s wife was pregnant with twins, which are due in October. She worked in conjunction with Rossendale Borough Council and Fearns Community High School, Bacup and they had opened up a riding facility across from the school. He told the court: “She is integral in running that and that is why her horsebox was at home at the time.”

Mr Leech added: “He bitterly regrets his actions. He looks at making the position of his own circumstances much worse for some considerable time to come.”