An Uber driver who used a blind passenger’s phone to tip himself narrowly avoided jail but was arrested on separate allegations the minute he left court.
Ms Oruwari had been alone and desperate to get home from London Bridge Station at 10pm on June 29, last year, and booked the BMW Uber because there were no trains to East Croydon.
Mihai, of Dagenham, east London, was given a five month prison sentence suspended for twelve months at Croydon Magistrates Court.
However, he did not walk free as detectives immediately arrested him after the hearing and took him into custody on unrelated allegations.
Moments before, District Judge Susan Green condemned married father-of-two Mihai, and told him: ‘You took advantage of a blind, vulnerable person who trusted you…
‘If those people with disabilities and disadvantages cannot rely on the assistance of those around them then our society is in a sorry state.’
Ms Oruwari, 39, told the court she was ‘irritated’ Mihai enquired about her sight loss during the journey, before insisting there was a problem with his phone and needed to use hers to end the journey.
She said: ‘I thought it was a little odd, but there was nothing in his behaviour to make me think I wasn’t safe.
‘I did not think anything fishy was going on, but I was handing him a lot of trust because of the information on the phone’.
She turned off her phone’s screenreader function before handing it over to Mihai but only discovered the tip once she arrived at home.
Uber immediately refunded Ms Oruwari the fare, removed Mihai from their approved drivers’ database and reported him to the police.
The singer, who was a finalist on BBC’s All Together Now and has performed at the Royal Opera House, said the incident has shaken her up.
‘It has reiterated the fact I am vulnerable and more susceptible to crime and being taken advantage of, but to lead a full life I have to trust people,’ the soprano singer told the trial.
‘That trust has been shaken, but I am determined to continue trusting in people.’
Mihai denied using Ms Oruwari’s iPhone, telling the trial: ‘I finished this journey on my phone. I want to work honestly.’
He was convicted of fraud by false representation and was ordered to complete 240 hours community service and disqualified from driving for six months.
Mihai was also ordered to pay Ms Oruwari £200 compensation, plus the £20 tip, £775 court cost and a £122 victim surcharge.
The court heard he has also lost his Private Hire Driver Licence and has not worked since the criminal proceedings began.
‘You have shown no remorse at all for this offence,’ the judge told Mihai. ‘I take into account your family, your children, a daughter aged six and a son, aged five, with health issues and your future employment prospects, which are especially dim and rightly so.
‘You are saved from going to prison by your previous good character and the effect imprisonment would have on your wife and family.’