Taxi driver denies sex assault on drunken passenger

June 24, 2015 | By More

Court House-doorwayA taxi driver denies Crown allegations that he abducted and had a sexual encounter with a young drunk woman who fell asleep in his cab.

The Crown says the sexual activity took place when the woman was asleep or passed out, and after she had been vomiting out the side of the taxi.

The driver says he realised he had feelings for her during the taxi ride, and the sexual encounter was consensual.

The driver, aged 35, has name suppression until the jury returns its verdicts. Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll will sum up for the jury on Thursday morning before it begins its deliberations.

The woman – she had drunk alcohol while she was taking anti-biotics for an eye infection – was found passed out in the toilet at The Monday Room bar by a bouncer who put her in a taxi to be taken home. “The bouncer thought he was doing the right thing,” said Crown prosecutor Kathy Basire.

The cab’s security camera shows the woman getting into the back of the taxi, and later getting into the front seat and putting on her seat belt. She is clearly talking to the driver, but after a few minutes the woman slows down and slumps towards the window, apparently asleep.

Nine minutes into the journey, while she is asleep, the driver appears to turn off the taxi meter, and then turns off the security camera. Turning off a taxi camera is a breach of the law.

The driver said that the sexual touching that took place then at a remote location near Christchurch’s Northern Motorway was consensual.

The Crown said that she had been asleep but when she woke she believed she had been sexually assaulted. She called the police. Scientific evidence showed the driver’s DNA on her neck, inside the cup of her brassiere, and in her genitalia. Miss Basire said the driver had “helped himself”.

“The Crown case is that this girl was asleep or so affected by drugs and alcohol that she could not consent.” Possible side-effects of her medication were vomiting, sleepiness, and headaches.

The driver denies charges of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, indecent assault, and abducting the woman for the purpose of sexual connection.

Defence counsel Rupert Glover said the driver was actually a Good Samaritan who had found himself in an appalling situation. “He did not realise it was going to have a potential for disaster until it was too late.”

During the journey, while he was trying to drive the woman home to an address she was unclear about, she had spoken to him. Because of the conversation, and the fact she was “coming on to him”, he had genuinely believed that “this young woman might have a bit of fun rather than pay a fare”.

Mr Glover told the jury: “You might think that is not how a taxi driver should behave – I do, too – but it doesn’t make him guilty of sexual violation, indecent assault, and abduction for sex.”

He pointed out that the woman had said in her evidence: “I cannot be 100 percent sure of anything.” She could not remember what had happened.

The driver said in his police interview that he had stroked the woman’s hair, hugged her, and invited her to give him a kiss, which she did, said Mr Glover. The woman had said in evidence that she had not kissed him – that she would not have done that.

Mr Glover said the driver had not wired the camera in the taxi in order that it could be switched off. He had simply installed it himself, as an amateur would have done, to save money.

The trial is continuing.


Category: Focus

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