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Rapist cab driver sent to prison


An unlicensed cab driver was jailed for seven years and three months today after being found guilty of raping a female passenger.

Mohamed Hacene-Chaouch, 46, preyed on the drunk young woman after she had been celebrating a friend's birthday and had become separated from the group in Soho, central London, on January 26.

Sentencing the father-of-five at the Old Bailey, Judge Wendy Joseph said: "It must have been clear to you that she was helplessly and hopelessly drunk.

"She trusted you to take her safely home. She was clearly vulnerable, she was obviously helpless and in your power, and I regard this as a significant feature."

The woman, who is in her 20s, said the last thing she remembered was being in the back of a car and being taken to a cashpoint.

She said she drifted in and out of consciousness but woke in the car outside her east London home with Hacene-Chaouch sexually assaulting her.

He claimed the woman had approached him in Tottenham Court Road saying a black cab would not take her because she was too drunk and denied he was touting for trade or committing any sexual assault.

After Hacene-Chaouch, of Catford, south London, was found guilty following a trial at the Old Bailey last month, Judge Joseph told the jury he had been accused of a similar offence before.

He was accused of attacking a drunken woman passenger in 2004 after picking her up in the Tottenham Court Road area but was acquitted.

Wearing a dark grey suit, bespectacled Hacene-Chaouch, who is from Nigeria, did not show any emotion and stared straight ahead as the judge passed sentence.

But as he was told he would be prohibited from working or seeking work as a taxi driver for 10 years, he shouted "God is great, I'm innocent" towards his wife, who the court heard is standing by him and watched proceedings from the public gallery.

During mitigation, Gary Rutter, for the defence, said Hacene-Chaouch had not used any violence against the victim, did not prevent her from leaving his cab after the attack and did take her to her home.

But the judge said: "I haven't heard a single word of remorse in any way, shape or form."

She said a pre-sentence report indicated that the offence was related to his general attitude towards women.

Judge Joseph said he was "no stranger to the courts" as he also has a previous conviction for theft and five for taxi touting.

Hacene-Chaouch will also have to sign the sex offenders register for life.

Detective Constable Darren de St-Denis, of the Metropolitan Police's sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse command, said: "I would like to praise the bravery of the victim in coming forward to the police in this distressing case and supporting the investigation.

"I would urge anyone to come forward to the police in such cases and work with us to convict these predatory males posing as minicab drivers who target women when they are at their most vulnerable."