A Brisbane court has sentenced a taxi driver, who sexually assaulted a young, vulnerable woman trying to get home, to an 18-month jail term.
The sentence was read out in Brisbane’s District Court after Amritpal Singh, 35, pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexual assault and one count of aggravated sexual assault.
The 20-year-old victim told the court she had been out in Fortitude Valley when she got into Singh’s cab to go home to Forest Lake in the early hours of 25 June 2021.
The court was told that shortly after commencing the journey, Singh pulled over in Herstonand and asked for payment.
The court heard that he suggested, “they could f**k and that was the only option”, when the female passenger was not able to pay using the phone app. The trip resumed when she insisted she would pay using a card.
The court was further told that Singh placed his hand near her genitalia multiple times, continually asking her for sex and placing her hand on his private parts. He kept asking to perform oral sex on her, despite her saying ‘no’.
Singh then pulled the taxi off the motorway, placed his head between her legs and made contact with her genitalia, the court was told.
The court was told that when they reached their destination, he asked for a kiss, she gave him one and he grabbed her breasts.
The Courier Mail has reported that according to the crown prosecutor, Singh told police that it was the woman who initiated sexual contact because she did not have enough money to pay for the ride. “The (woman) was vulnerable being in a taxi with no other means to take her home. The defendant’s offending was predatory and exploited that weakness,” the crown prosecutor said. “There were moments where the complainant kissed the defendant back but it was obtained through pressure.”, he added.
Counsel for Singh said his client, who was a taxi driver since 2008, was “close to his faith” and had demonstrated remorse through his early plea of guilty and had accepted on numerous occasions that his passenger communicated to him that his behaviour was not okay. He said his client had no criminal history and had sought professional counselling since being charged.
Judge Katherine McGinness concluded that the victim was “clearly intoxicated and disoriented and helpless” throughout the ordeal.
“You were in a position of significant trust as a taxi driver transporting a young woman who was alone, it was night time, she was entitled to feel safe and secure.
“I would be very surprised if this has not had some adverse impact on her of a longer nature.”, the judge said.
Singh received a sentence of 18 months jail, suspended after four months.