By Mehroz Siraj
Southport: Chief Executive of the Queensland Taxi Council, Benjamin Walsh, has demanded firm action against an alleged bikie gang member who fired shots through the windscreen of taxi in Queensland’s Southport region on June 11.
Queensland media reported about an assault that victimised a Turkish taxi driver who sustained injuries in the overall shoot out.
According to the driver, identified as Brian Tekbiyik and Brian Herald, the incident took place on the night of June 11, around 2.15 am when he was driving.
After picking them, he discovered that they were carrying arms as well.
The armed men shot at the taxi when Herald pulled over and ran for cover, after which he was taken to a local hospital in an ambulance.
“The offenders need to be punished according to the full provisions of the law,” Walsh told Brisbane’s 4BC Radio in a special interview on June 12.
“It certainly highlights to us that this is a job that has some dangers associated,” he added, saying that drivers too should remain vigilant within the areas in which they were working at anytime.
Walsh lamented that unlike Herald, most other taxi drivers never came up to report about any violent of discriminatory incidences that they might have encountered during their shifts.
This, according to him, was creating many legislative and law enforcement problems for the Taxi Council of Queensland, the state’s main taxi industry body and the Queensland Police.
He also criticised the mainstream media for not reporting enough on the plight and issues of the taxi drivers, who according to him, were providing valuable services to the community.
“When we know what the scale of problem is, only then we can address it,” Walsh told 4BC Radio.
Walsh said that this incident highlighted the need for greater cooperation amongst the drivers, the council and the police.
Greater cooperation would enable the stakeholders to analyse and address important threat factors that were directly impacting the security and lives of the people in the taxi industry, he said.
Late in the night of June 11, the police encircled the concerned area in Southport and arrested the bikie, 25 year old Leonard David Toalei from Scarborough St, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported.
According to the paper, the Queensland Police revealed that Toalei was already wanted by the police in relation to previous criminal cases and that he would presented in courts shortly.
The paper added that police had obtained important evidence and CCTV footages that showed Toalei hijacking a milk truck and then a bus, where he is alleged to have punched the bus driver in his face.
Toalei was a member of the outlawed Bandido bikie gang of Queensland, according to the police.
However, according to the Queensland police, Toalei acted in case of this incident as an individual and that the shootings were not part of any organized violence by any bikie gangs.
Toalei is expected to be tried in the Southport Magistrates Court on June 12 on twelve different charges including those of assaulting police, illegally carrying weapons, using a loaded weapon to create fear and illegal use of motor vehicles.