Unlicensed London taxi driver jailed for raping passenger

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

A judge at the Old Bailey in London has sentenced unlicensed taxi driver Astor Murray, 49, to eight years in prison for the rape and indecent assault of a passenger of his illegal taxi business in 2003. He forced the 22-year-old student, who cannot be named, to perform oral sex on him before raping her in the back of his car and was linked to the crime when he was arrested for unrelated offences last year.

Cquote1.svg He offered to take me home for £10 Cquote2.svg

—Rape victim

Murray's DNA was taken in late 2009 when he was arrested for touting unlicensed taxi services and assault; he was convicted of touting in October and admits running an illegal taxi business for two years. A check against unsolved crimes revealed his DNA matched that from the unsolved sex attack in November 2003.

The victim, who earlier testified against Murray, gave a victim impact statement in which she stated that she took only black cabs and not minicabs like the one she was raped in. She said she is afraid to go out on her own and that "I have not been able to have a relationship with a man since this happened."

She previously told the court she had been drinking with friends and was at a bus stop at 4 a.m. when "I was approached by a man who said he was a minicab driver. He offered to take me home for £10." However, instead Murray took her to a Shoreditch industrial estate. There he locked the minicab's doors, removed his trousers and forcibly received oral sex from her before raping her. He later stopped the car at traffic lights and released her.

The jury took just 50 minutes earlier this month to return guilty verdicts to both charges. Judge Ann Goddard QC, sentencing, described the rape as "a very serious offence," and told Murray "on that early morning... you were in my view a predator." In mitigation defence barrister Philip Sutton claimed that "[t]his may be a case where, because of the passage of time, maybe by the time we got to the trial or shortly before the trial, he may have convinced himself of his innocence." He added that Murray had now accepted what he had done, and although he claimed at trial his sex with the woman was consensual he wrote a letter explaining his actions to Judge Goddard.

Goddard described this as a "little late" but Sutton responded that "[t]his is a man who is in fact now removing the cloud from his own eyes." The man's previous touting conviction and what Gaddard described as "a lasting effect on [the victim]" was also taken into consideration. Murray was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for the rape, with a concurrent three years for the indecent assault. He will remain on the Sex Offenders Register for life and, according to the Enfield Independent, will likely spend half the sentence behind bars and the other paroled on license.

Goddard expressed a hope that the trial's outcome "will be of some help to" the victim. The court also heard Murray had alcohol problems and a failed relationship on his mind, with Sutton calling him a "loner" who was dealing with his issues instead of seeking assistance.


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