A TAXI driver from Leamington has been jailed after he was convicted of grabbing a woman between her legs when she got out of his cab following a row about the fare.
Balvinder Singh had denied sexually assaulting the woman after driving her home from Coventry city centre, claiming ‘it just did not happen.’
But following a trial at Warwick Crown Court last month, the jury took just two hours to find Singh, age 56 of Tachbrook Road, guilty by a unanimous verdict.
And following an adjournment for a pre-sentence report to be prepared, Judge Barry Berlin jailed Singh for eight months and ordered him to register as a sex offender for ten years.
The judge told Singh: “I take the view that a taxi driver who is convicted of breach of trust by a sexual offence committed against a passenger ought to go immediately to custody.”
During the trial the jury heard that in the early hours of Sunday January 17 last year a woman in her 50s contacted the police to say she had been sexually assaulted by a taxi driver.
“The defendant’s case is that he was the taxi driver during this incident, but that no sexual assault took place,” explained prosecutor Tariq Shakoor.
He said the woman had been out for the night socialising with friends and had visited a number of pubs, ‘having a normal Saturday night out.’
At about 2.30am she decided to go home. She left a pub and flagged down a black cab.
The woman shared the cab with a male friend who was dropped off first before continuing to her home.
But when they arrived there was a dispute over the fare, which was higher than she thought it should be, which Singh said was because of waiting time while they dropped off her friend.
The woman became abusive, and called the police to complain about being overcharged – but although the operator told her it was a civil matter, the line remained open and recorded the exchange, which ended with her paying Singh £10.
She complained she could not get out, so Singh got out to open the door, and when she got out he then grabbed hold of her.
Mr Shakoor said: “He put his hand between her legs, over her clothing, in the area of her private parts. She couldn’t believe what he’d done.”
He said that during the incident the woman heard someone shout out, which caused Singh to let go, and he got back into the taxi and drove off – and she went inside and, ‘quite distraught,’ called the police again.
The jury heard that a woman who lived in the same street happened to be awake and could hear the argument over the fare, so got out of bed and looked out of the window.
“She describes seeing the driver grabbing the female around the area of her waist and holding her in what she described as a bear hug, pulling her towards him.
“It appeared as if he was trying to kiss her. She alerts her partner who gets out of bed and shouts out of the window.”
Following the incident, Singh was traced and arrested, but denied the offence, added Mr Shakoor.
In court, Singh said he kept his foot on the brake during the argument over the fare to keep the door locked so the woman could not make off without paying.
But he said it was then she who hugged him, apologising for the argument over the fare, so he had hugged her back.
“She said she liked me. I said ‘no, I’m married, and I moved her with two hands, pushing outwards to her shoulders, and then got back into the taxi and drove away.”
He denied touching her between the legs, accusing her of making it all up to get him into trouble – but the jury rejected his version of what happened.