A TAXI driver and his wife wept openly as he was jailed for two years for sexually assaulting a student who had fallen asleep in his cab.
Abdul Mannan, 39, of Rhebogue Meadows, had denied the charge, claiming the sexual contact had been instigated by the 19-year-old woman who had been out socialising as part of Mary Immaculate College Rag Week.
But after a jury at Limerick Circuit Court had found Mannan guilty of sexual assault, Judge Carroll Moran rejected his version of events, remarking he had told a story “full of holes and lies”.
People were entitled to get into a taxi at night in the expectation that they “will not be molested, particularly sexually”, Judge Moran said.
Mannan had carried out the assault in the Castletroy area on February 7, 2011 after picking up a fare at Molly’s Bar on Ellen Street.
During a three-day trial, the victim told the court that she had fallen asleep in the car and that when she had woken up, Mannan had his fingers inside her vagina.
In his evidence, Mannan claimed the student had forced him to do this when he refused to have sex with her after she accused him of taking a wrong turn.
Following just under three hours of deliberation, the jury of nine men and three women returned with a majority guilty verdict.
Mannan, the court heard, had no previous convictions here or in his native Bangladesh.
The fact that the victim had consumed alcohol should be viewed as an aggravating rather than a mitigating factor, Judge Moran said, as it meant the driver had taken advantage of somebody who was vulnerable.
The victim had been “highly distressed” as a result of the assault, Judge Moran observed. Prosecuting counsel John O’Sullivan BL said that in spite of the trauma she had suffered, the victim had managed to continue her studies.
Judge Moran sentenced Mannan to three years in prison for sexual assault, with the final year suspended. Mannan, a father-of-two, and his wife wept openly as the sentence was explained by an interpreter. The accused’s name is to be placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years and he is disqualified from holding a PSV licence.