A minicab driver who molested a female customer while her driving home has been jailed for seven years.

Said Ali, 36, was working off the books when he picked up the woman outside Thirst nightclub in Park End Street, Oxford, in 2018. As a minicab driver he was not allowed to pick up customers who had not pre-booked.

She woke to find the Oxford man was touching her sexually and had driven to a remote countryside spot. He was said to have repeated the word ‘sex’ to her.

Last month, jurors found Ali, formerly of Union Street, guilty of sexual assault by penetration and two counts of sexual assault by touching.

And on Thursday, Judge Maria Lamb heard he still did not accept his guilt – maintaining that his victim had initiated the sexual contact.

Sending him down for seven years, the judge said: “In the early hours of October 14, 2018, a young woman approached your cab outside Thirst nightclub and it was quite clear I am sure to you that she was in drink.

“You, of course, were out there because you were hoping to earn extra money, having finished your last authorised job at about quarter to 11. Thereafter you were working as it was put ‘off the books’.

“She got in the front side of your cab. She was talking about feeling sick, she gave you her address and the two of you set off and instead of taking her directly to her address, which must have been well within your capabilities as a local taxi driver, you took her on a drive out into the countryside.

“During the course of that you put her seat down. She had, in effect, passed out in drink.

“She thought she could trust you and you took advantage of that and you abused that trust.”

The victim had been particularly vulnerable, the judge said.

She added that she had considered whether Ali should be classed as a ‘dangerous’ offender and made subject to an extended sentence but concluded that the seven year jail term was sufficient. He must register as a sex offender for life and will serve two thirds of his sentence behind bars.

During the trial, the jury heard that Ali’s victim had reported the assault to her partner and housemate when she got back to Abingdon. The cab driver was swiftly arrested.

Mitigating, Martin Khoshdel said his client respected the jury’s decision but did not agree with their findings. The offence had been opportunistic rather than planned.

Ali, a British citizen, had set up his own fast food business and hoped to sponsor his family to come to the UK from Afghanistan. He was of previous good character. A number of positive character references were read during the trial.

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