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Taxi driver who raped passenger in Inverness "disgracefully breached" her trust judge says as he sentences him to six years imprisonment

By Court Reporter

Anwar Chowdhury.
Anwar Chowdhury.

A woman was driven to Culloden by a taxi driver who raped her but afterwards tried to argue she had consented.

Anwar Chowdhury (41), who should have driven his victim home after picking her up at a rank in Inverness city centre, took her instead to an isolated country road near the Culloden Battlefield where he parked and had sex with her in in the back of his Volkswagan Sharan taxi while she was too drunk to consent.

The case has led to calls for CCTV to be fitted compulsorily in all taxis.

Later he contacted a member of her family to try to persuade her to withdraw her complaint.

His victim, a woman in in her early 30s who had been on a night out with friends, has been left "with serious psychological effects", the High Court in Aberdeen was told.

Judge Lord Uist said Chowdhury had "disgracefully breached the trust" that the woman had placed in him when she got into his cab, then "ridiculously" claimed in court that she had not only agreed to have sex with him, but had initiated it.

Lord Uist said Chowdhury's victim had "suffered greatly" as a result – and he had shown no remorse.

He told Chowdhury: "You were convicted of the rape of a female passenger in your taxi in a remote area outside Inverness in the early hours of the morning.

"She was so drunk at the time she was incapable of giving or withholding consent.

"A lone woman returning from a night out – particularly when they have had too much to drink – must be able to trust a taxi driver to take them home safely.

"You breached that trust in a disgraceful manner when you raped your passenger.

"You denied your guilt at your trial and in the course of the ridiculous evidence that you gave maintained not only that she consented, but that she had initiated the sexual contact and that she was happy when she left your taxi at the end of her journey."

Imposing the six-year jail term, he added: "The crimes of which you have been convicted require a significant custodial sentence."

Married man Chowdhury, a father-of-one from Inverness, originally from Bangladesh, was placed on the sex offenders' register for life.

The incident occurred on August 5, 2018.Chowdhury had been granted a taxi operator's licence by Highland Council only three months earlier.

Advocate Graham Robertson, defending, said Chowdhury had brought "shame, dishonour and hurt" to his family.

He said: "He has let his family down and his community down, and there are consequences."

He said Chowdhury was now "emotionally separated" from his wife and suffering "extreme marital difficulties".

Chowdhury was found guilty by a jury in November last year of raping the woman by having sex with her in the back of his taxi when she was incapable of giving or withholding consent, and of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

He denied both charges.

The court heard he had picked up his married victim from a taxi rank in the centre of Inverness – where she had been out to a party with friends – and drove her to a side road near the Culloden battlefield site and parked before committing the rape.

In February last year , he met a relative of the victim in Nando's in Inverness Shopping Park in the hope of contacting his victim and persuading her to withdraw her complaint.

Chowdury showed no emotion as he was handcuffed and led to the cells.

The Scottish Conservative's justice spokesman Liam Kerr said Chowdhury had committed a "despicable and cowardly attack", adding: "While the vast majority of taxi drivers are courteous and professional, all women recognise the extreme vulnerability of travelling in a taxi alone at night.

"One way of reassuring the public would be for councils to ensure there are CCTV cameras in taxis, which would also be helpful in providing evidence for any prosecution if it were sadly needed. We must do everything possible to make sure horrific incidents like this do not happen again."

Rape Crisis Scotland added: "Taxi drivers are in a position of trust and responsibility, and it is disgraceful that anyone would abuse that."

Chowdhury's taxi licence was revoked in October 2018 as a result of the incident.

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