A Leamington taxi driver who grabbed a woman between her legs in a sexual assault when she got out of his cab has been warned to expect an immediate prison sentence.
Balvinder Singh, 56, of Tachbrook Road, had denied sexually assaulting the woman after driving her home, claiming ‘it just did not happen’.
But the jury at Warwick Crown Court took just two hours to find Singh guilty by a unanimous verdict.
Adjourning for a pre-sentence report, Judge Barry Berlin warned that a taxi driver convicted of breach of trust by a sexual offence against a passenger ‘ought to go immediately to custody.’
Prosecutor Tariq Shakoor said in the early hours of Sunday January 17 last year a woman in her 50s made a complaint to the police that she had been sexually assaulted by a taxi driver.
He said: “The defendant’s case is that he was the taxi driver during this incident, but that no sexual assault took place.”
Mr Shakoor said the woman had been out for the night, socialising with friends in Coventry city centre, and had visited a number of pubs, ‘having a normal Saturday night out.’
The woman shared her cab home 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. 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.
“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,” said Mr Shakoor.
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. She 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.”
In court, Singh 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, and accused her of making it all up to get him into trouble.
After the jury returned its verdict, Judge Berlin said: “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.”