By STEPHEN RYAN – Newcastle Herald –
A FORMER taxi driver who was the subject of 17 complaints in seven years including allegations that he fell asleep at the wheel and defecated outside Newcastle Airport has failed to have his licence reinstated.
John Sunol told the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal that most of the complaints were false and were made by people out to get him including gay rights activist Garry Burns.
Mr Sunol drove taxis in Newcastle from 2003 until 2012 with periods of suspension in between.
During that time he was the subject of a number of investigations by Roads and Maritime Services including one where Sunol made a number of comments about gays and Muslims to two undercover agents who caught his cab.
The most serious allegations against Mr Sunol were that he fell asleep at the wheel at a set of lights, that he was in an ‘‘agitated’’ state outside Newcastle Airport one day after ‘‘appearing to have defecated himself’’ and making inflammatory comments about religions and homosexuals.
As well as appealing to have his taxi drivers licence reinstated, Mr Sunol also applied for a bus driver’s licence, but this was also refused.
Mr Sunol told the tribunal that, ‘‘His past difficulties had been a result of being framed and of having been victimised because of his engagement in local politics.’’
The tribunal ruled that Mr Sunol was not of good repute and was not a fit and proper person to hold such licences.
The tribunal noted that Mr Sunol had been pursued numerous times for making derogatory comments about homosexuals and religious groups and that he had continued to make such comments online in breach of tribunal orders.
‘‘He could not be trusted in the confines of the taxi cab or a bus. Passengers should not be subjected to Mr Sunol’s views.’’