Falsely accused taxi driver desperate to get life back
A taxi driver has told how he lost his livelihood after he was wrongly accused of helping two criminals in their plot to steal from a bank.
Eldon Robinson, 53, drove Tiberiu Gavrila and Radu Asavei to Hamilton in January 2019 after they told him they were tourists who needed a ride.
He ended up getting arrested after it turned out the pair were planning to steal cash from HSBC.
The court case dragged on for 17 months, during which time Mr Robinson lost his job and got into debt.
His case was finally dismissed last month; he is now desperately trying to put his life back together.
He said: “I started job searching and I wound up having to turn to financial assistance to get insurance and have some kind of livelihood. It was like I had gotten blacklisted because everywhere I turned I couldn’t get a job.”
He added: “I just thank God this is over and I just want to move forward with my life.”
Mr Robinson, from St George’s, spoke after magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo ruled that he had no case to answer and dismissed the charge on July 15.
He had been accused on March 9 last year of conspiring to remove stolen money from Bermuda alongside Gavrila, 45, from Romania, and Asavei, 32, from Britain.
Mr Robinson said that he met the pair in January last year when he offered them a ride home on a rainy morning.
He explained that the two men claimed to be Romanian tourists on holiday and that he gave them his business card in case they needed a ride during their stay. Mr Robinson said that he drove them into Hamilton at their request on January 30.
Once on Reid Street, police officers “came out of everywhere” and surrounded the car.
Mr Robinson explained: “It was like a sting.
“When they all pulled up, it was like everybody was there: squad cars, the paddy wagon, detective cars.
“They were like ‘get out of the car, get out of the car’ and I’m like ‘what’s going on?’.”
He added: “They’re pulling at the doors and I unlocked the door.
“They wound up grabbing them out on the passenger side and they put them up against the wall over by Chopsticks.
“And then a female officer came to my side and she opened my door and she said ‘Mr Robinson, can you come with me, please?’.”
Mr Robinson said that he learnt police had tracked the two men for days after they were caught using fake cards to steal from banks.
He was arrested and eventually charged with conspiracy to move stolen money.
Gavrila and Asavei pleaded guilty to the conspiracy in January this year, as well as to charges of conspiring to steal $4,340 from HSBC and the possession of at least 15 fake credit cards.
They were both sentenced to one year in prison.
Mr Robinson said that his trial was rescheduled three times before his charge was eventually dismissed because of a lack of evidence.
Mr Robinson explained that he thought his accusation was “absurd”.
Mr Robinson said: “Why would I want to rob a bank, or even help someone rob a bank, that I’ve been banking with for 12 years?”
He added that since his arrest “everything went downhill for me”.
HSBC terminated his account and he could not open another with any other bank.
He added that the Transport Control Department refused to renew his licence last August, which cost him his job and eventually put him in debt.
He added that he had still not received his licence.
He explained: “The 27th of this month — which is my birthday — makes a whole year I’ve been off the road.”
Mr Robinson added: “By law, you’re innocent until proven guilty.
“For TCD to just strip me of my livelihood like that, I felt that was very much unjust and unfair.”
Mr Robinson said that he had been offered his job back on the taxi service if his licence was reinstated.
Mr Robinson added: “I’m trying to help our society grow, not take from it — that’s not my intentions.
“I would never try to strip my country of its economy.
“That’s not me; that’s never been me and that never will be me.”
A government spokesman said last night: “As this matter is still before the Public Service Vehicle Licensing Board, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.
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