It was only last July that figures were released showing that drivers working for driver and rider matching service Uber had committed an increasing number of alleged rapes and sexual assaults: the widely reported figure of 32 allegations of rapes and other sex attacks from 2015-16 had been eclipsed in the 2016-17 figures. Those figures, which had just been released, showed a total of 48 allegations of sexual assault.
The following month brought the news that the Metropolitan Police had expressed serious misgivings about Uber’s apparently cavalier attitude towards reporting allegations of sexual assault to them. In one case, even after one driver had been dismissed following two such complaints, although TfL were informed, the Police were not. So this week’s news from the courts should not have come as a surprise.
At least the Evening Standard has reported the latest in a long litany of Uber driver misbehaviour, telling earlier last week “An Uber driver raped a drunk customer on the back seat of his car after grabbing her as she was about to enter her home, a court heard … Muhammad Durrani, 38, is accused of attacking the woman in his Toyota after driving her from a live music club in Clapham”. And there was more.
“After arriving at her address, he followed the woman to her door and lifted her up as she fumbled for her keys, Southwark crown court heard. Durrani allegedly carried her back to his car where he raped and sexually assaulted the ‘bewildered’ woman … The woman said she fell asleep during the drive home, to be awoken by the driver as they arrived”.
So what happened then? “‘Because I had been drinking I was a bit disoriented, trying to get my bearings I was walking towards my house trying to find my keys’, she said … He then came out and said ‘I will help’. I said ‘thank you but I’m fine’. He followed me to my door. He then picked me up and carried me to the backseat … She said she was ‘scared’ as Durrani pounced on her, then exposed himself”.
Although Durrani denied the charges, by yesterday the Standard was able to report “An Uber driver has been found guilty of raping a drunk customer on the back seat of his car after grabbing her as she was about to enter her home”. Tellingly, the report also tells that he “was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on May 10”. Remanded in custody.
Why would he be held in custody, even before sentencing? The last paragraph of the Standard report has a hint: “Scotland Yard said detectives would like to hear from anyone who believes that they may have been assaulted by Durrani”. So there appears to be suspicion that he’s done this before, perhaps on more than one occasion.
Remember the past case of the Uber driver who only got dismissed after a second complaint of sexual assault? And the subsequent claims by the company that it was cleaning up its act? Well, those claims are now looking increasingly hollow.
Something else for TfL to consider when that appeal comes up. More on this one later.