LONDON: An Indian-origin taxi driver found guilty of sexually assaulting a female passenger when she was in an "extremely vulnerable condition" during a ride back to her home in London was sentenced to 16 months in prison by a UK court on Tuesday.
Temur Shah, who worked for ride-hailing company Uber, appeared before Judge Nicholas Wood at Isleworth Crown Court in west London and was told a custodial sentence was unavoidable for his actions on an "utterly defenceless" victim.
"You had a young woman in your trust, in your cab, late at night," the judge noted.
The 45-year-old taxi driver had denied assaulting the 27-year-old female victim in January last year but had been found guilty following a week-long trial last month.
"Shah despicably took advantage of his position as a trusted licensed driver and sexually assaulted a passenger in a vulnerable state.
His conviction was down to a meticulous investigation which left the jury in no doubt as to his guilt," said Detective Superintendent Andy Cox from the Scotland Yard's Roads and Transport Policing Command.
Shah's guilty verdict followed an investigation by the Metropolitan Police's Taxi and Private Hire Policing Team part of the Roads and Transport Policing Command which is part-funded by Transport for London (TfL) to tackle attacks on the city's public transport.
Mandy McGregor, Head of Transport Policing and Community Safety at TfL, said: "This attack on a vulnerable passenger was predatory and disgusting, and we are pleased to see that Shah has been convicted.
I would like to thank the young woman for coming forward and reporting this so TfL and the police could investigate and take action against the driver.
"We expect the highest standards from TfL licensed taxi and private hire drivers.
Not only has Shah been convicted but immediate licensing action was taken to prevent him from continuing in his role as a TfL licensed private hire driver."
The offence dates back to the early hours of January 15 last year when Shah picked up the woman, who was feeling unwell, from an address in central London.
During the journey, Shah stopped the vehicle and insisted she should sit next to him in the front.
After driving for a bit longer, the passenger said she was going to vomit.
Shah stopped the cab and leaned over her to open the front passenger door.
While doing this he sexually touched her and continued to sexually assault her even as she leant out of the vehicle being sick, the court was told.
Afterwards, Shah dropped the passenger off near her home in north London and the matter was reported to the police.