The West

Hero cabbie fondled bandit

The cab driver hailed a hero for tackling an accused armed robber kissed, cuddled and showered with the alleged bandit at his Koondoola home, claim transport authorities who want to strip him of his licence.

The Department of Transport suspended 39-year-old Tony Vaisi's taxi licence two weeks ago after police provided the department with details from his witness statement that suggested he had breached the taxi driver's code of conduct.

Mr Vaisi made a citizen's arrest of the woman in the carpark of a Koondoola supermarket after a three-hour ordeal, during which the woman allegedly held him hostage and forced him to drive her around, on November 27.

The woman had allegedly committed several serious crimes, including two armed robberies of banks in Dianella and Booragoon, before Mr Vaisi picked her up.

The State Administrative Tribunal was told yesterday that Mr Vaisi spent about an hour with the woman at his home, where they smoked cigarettes, drank wine, took a shower together and kissed and touched each other in Mr Vaisi's bedroom.

Prosecutor Peter Busby said Mr Vaisi had breached the cab driver's code of conduct by engaging in sexual conduct with a passenger.

Mr Busby said the pair did not have sex but "there was certainly some intimacy".

He said video footage from Mr Vaisi's taxi showed he did not appear to be under duress and it was clear his intent was to take the woman back to his home.

"We have a very strong case . . . the grounds for suspicion are very strong," Mr Busby said.

"He took this woman back to his house and wasn't under any duress to do so.

"The DVD shows that very, very clearly."

Mr Vaisi, who has driven taxis for 10 years with a clean record, told the hearing he took the woman to his home to calm her down in an effort to save his own life.

He said his actions were an effort to convince the woman that he did not realise she was the armed bank robber they had heard about on the radio in his cab earlier.

He had offered her a shower to help her relax, but she asked him to go with her because she had not wanted to leave him alone.

He also told the woman she could stay at his house overnight in an effort to gain her trust.

"Human to human, I would try to calm her down," Mr Vaisi said.

"I had to gain her trust.

"I thought if she accepted to go to the shower, that would be enough time to call the police.

"The whole intention was not to let that knife come out."

Mr Vaisi, who has accused the police who took his statement of misconduct, said he had been afraid to run away from the woman because she was taller and stronger than him and he was afraid she would stab him from behind.

A decision on whether Mr Vaisi's licence will remain suspended until a final hearing will be given on Wednesday.

The West Australian

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