Driver jailed for sexual assault on woman who was asleep in back of taxi in Limerick

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

The taxi driver pleaded guilty to charges relating to an incident which happened outside the woman’s home during the early hours of March 13, 2016

The taxi driver pleaded guilty to charges relating to an incident which happened outside the woman’s home during the early hours of March 13, 2016

A TAXI driver who sexually assaulted a woman who was asleep in the back of his cab has been jailed for 18 months.

Rafal Iwaniez, aged 42, who has addresses at Kilteragh, Dooradoyle and in Nenagh, County Tipperary, pleaded guilty to charges relating to an incident which happened outside the woman’s home during the early hours of March 13, 2016.

Garda Claire Tierney said gardai were alerted to an incident at around 2am and that when they arrived, she observed a taxi which was parked outside the house in the city where the woman was living at the time.

She said the driver (Mr Iwaniez) had been pulled from the vehicle by the woman’s partner, who had also removed the keys pending the arrival of gardai.

He told gardai he had confronted the taxi driver when he saw him lying on top of his partner in the back seat.

He said she was “sound asleep” and that her bra was on the floor of the car.

“I saw red, I hit him a slap into the face with my fist,” he told gardai.

Garda Tierney said the woman had been socialising in the city centre earlier in the night and had flagged down the taxi after she left a pub.

Judge Tom O’Donnell was told the taxi had arrived at the woman’s home around 20 minutes before her partner went outside having became concerned.

The woman, the court heard, has no recollection of what happened, such was her level of intoxication.

When questioned about the incident, the defendant told gardai he had been chatting with the woman after he collected her and that at one point she leaned forward and kissed him.

He accepted she had fallen asleep and said he initially got out and opened the back door to wake her.

He told gardai they started “rubbing each other” and that she did not resist when he took off her bra, leading him to believe that she was looking for sex.

The defendant, who is in a relationship with another woman, said he was aroused and “got a feeling we had gone too far”.

Yvonne Quinn BL said Mr Iwaniez – a Polish national – had misjudged the situation very badly and that it was “once-off fall from grace”.

Imposing sentence, Judge O’Donnell said members of the public need to trust that taxi drivers are law-abiding and that drivers who commit such offences will face the consequences.

He said there had been a betrayal of trust and that the woman had endured a very disturbing and distressing experience.

He said Mr Iwaniez’s admissions were “pivotal” as  any trial would have been “extremely difficult to prosecute”.

He imposed a three-year prison sentence, suspending the final 18 months.

The defendant’s name was placed on the Sex Offenders Register for ten years and the judge lifted reporting restrictions barring the publication of his identity.