A Hamilton taxi driver jailed for sexually assaulting two female passengers has had his appeal against his conviction and sentencing dismissed.
Abdirahim Sheikh Mohamed Guled, who covered up his security camera with cardboard prior to the assaults, was sentenced to 10 years’ prison in the Hamilton District Court in December 2014 after a jury found him guilty of raping and abducting one of his female passengers and doing an indecent act on a 14-year-old passenger.
The first incident involved a 19-year-old woman who was picked up by Guled, who worked for Dial-A-Cab as an owner/driver, at the intersection of Bridge and Victoria Sts on March 8, 2013.
The victim told the jury that Guled pulled over and offered her a free ride, but part way along the journey he took a detour and headed to the isolated area of Riverlea Dr.
She admitted having sex with Guled but said that she was forced to after Guled turned to her and said that the ride wasn’t free and he would abandon her if she didn’t comply.
The second incident involved him pulling up beside a 14-year-old girl as she walked home from town and offered her a ride. However, he instead took her to an isolated industrial area and was busted by a security guard who thought something suspicious was going on.
In her appeal against both the conviction and sentencing in the Court of Appeal, Guled’s lawyer, Tiffany Cooper, argued there was a “miscarriage of justice” as sentencing Judge Barney Thomas refused to let her cross-examine the first victim about her previous sexual experience and failed to explain the meaning of “indecency” in his summing up.
Cooper submitted that the 19-year-old had filed a rape complaint a year earlier and that it had similar overtones of Guled’s complaint. She said that while the complaint could not be shown to be false the circumstances were “inherently suspect”.
Judge Thomas declined to allow the evidence on the ground that the complaint could not be shown to be false.
The Court of Appeal backed the judge’s decision and said it would risk the jury being distracted from the main issue by the question of whether the complaint was in fact false and potentially “seriously” disrupt the trial.
As for the victim’s alleged earlier “high risk behaviour” – accepting lifts with me she did not know and having sex with them – would simply be a “fishing expedition and risk an entirely unfounded blackening of the complainant’s name”.
The court did not accept Ms Cooper’s submission about the victim’s supposed “sexual promiscuity … it is irrelevant and has no probative value in the context of the present offending”.
As for Ms Cooper’s complaint about the judge’s direction on what indecency was, the court agreed that it was brief but given the context of the case “we do not think it was in appropriate and, in any event, a more extensive direction would have made no difference to the outcome”.
“The jury would inevitably have reached the same result.”