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Australia Uber driver Sakaria Taufao jailed for raping teenage passenger

12:36  22 january  2021
12:36  22 january  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Sakaria Taufao , 50, is on trial for allegedly raping a teenager he picked up as an Uber driver . Mr Gawrych told the court Mr Taufao then forced the woman to have "quick and rough" intercourse with him before ordering her to return to the front of the car.

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a person standing in front of a car posing for the camera: Taufao, a New Zealand citizen, will face deportation when he is released from prison. (Facebook) © Provided by ABC NEWS Taufao, a New Zealand citizen, will face deportation when he is released from prison. (Facebook)

An Uber driver who kept a teenage passenger's licence as a "trophy" for almost two years after he raped her on a secluded road in Ipswich, west of Brisbane, has been sentenced to seven years in jail.

Sakaria Taufao, 51, forced the 18-year-old to have "quick and rough" sexual intercourse in the back of his car at Redbank Plains in September 2015.

Prosecutors told the District Court in Brisbane that Taufao had approached the teenager while she was walking home from a nightclub in the Ipswich CBD and asked if she "wanted a lift", before telling her he was an Uber driver.

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The court heard not long after she agreed to let him drive her to Fortitude Valley in Brisbane, he switched off his Uber application, which disabled the GPS monitoring, and drove her to an isolated area before sexually assaulting her.

After the attack, the court heard Taufao drove her to Fortitude Valley, before turning the Uber application back on and continuing to complete rideshare trips.

In closing submissions on Thursday, defence lawyer Dominic Nguyen said the prosecution "had the wrong man" and the case was "wholly circumstantial".

"There is absolutely no direct evidence," Mr Nguyen said.

On Monday, Taufao had pleaded not guilty to one count of rape but after half a day of deliberations on Friday, a jury found him guilty.

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'Calculated and predatory'

During sentencing submissions on Friday night, Mr Nguyen asked the judge to consider his client's offending as "opportunistic" when determining his sentence.

When handing down his sentence, Judge Michael Burnett described Taufao's offending as "calculated and predatory".

"He used and abused his role as an Uber driver to lure her into his vehicle," he said.

Judge Burnett said he had taken advantage of a "drunk and vulnerable young girl".

"She was intoxicated, she was fearful, she was intimidated," he said.

"You violated this complainant in the most despicable way."

Taufao's second rape trial

It can now be revealed police were investigating a separate similar sexual assault complaint against Taufao when they found the teenager's driver's licence in his car almost two years later.

Investigators then contacted the victim and she made an official complaint in July 2017.

Earlier that month, Taufao had been charged with three counts of rape after police alleged he attacked another female passenger in an isolated area in Brisbane.

Taufao faced a separate trial in December last year, but a jury found him not guilty of all of those charges.

After the sentence was handed down on Friday night, Taufao turned from the dock and smiled at his three daughters, who had been supporting him throughout the trial.

Taufao, who is a New Zealand citizen, has served three and a half years in custody and is already eligible for parole.

However, the court heard Taufao would face deportation when he was released from prison.

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