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Prison sentence for taxi driver guilty of sexual assault on 17-year-old girl will not be increased

Updated: Jul 16, 2023

Image credit: Dorset Police

A shocking case involving a taxi driver found guilty of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl has sparked outrage and calls for a longer prison sentence.

Mahdi Ferhane, a father of two, was sentenced to 28 months in prison by Judge William Mousley KC at Bournemouth Crown Court. The sentence has faced criticism, and a request was made to the Government legal advisor to consider appealing it. However, the Solicitor General Michael Tomlinson has decided not to refer the case to the Court of Appeal through the unduly lenient sentence scheme.

The case involved Ferhane, who was unanimously found guilty of sexual assault but acquitted of attempted rape. According to local news outlet Bournemouth Echo, the incident occurred when Ferhane picked up the vulnerable teenager alone in Bournemouth town centre. After a brief conversation, the girl got into the front seat of his car, intending to be driven home. However, Ferhane diverted the route to a clifftop car park and insisted that she drive his vehicle.

Once they arrived at an address owned by Ferhane in St Peter’s Road, he proceeded to remove her dress, massage her shoulder, and sexually assault her. Following the assault, Ferhane drove the young girl home and charged her £12 for the trip as a taxi passenger.

The case revealed disturbing information about Ferhane's past. It came to light that he had previously had his licence revoked by Bournemouth Borough Council in 2017. However, he failed to disclose this information when he applied for a licence with New Forest District Council (NFDC) in December 2021. NFDC granted him permission to operate as a private hire driver for pre-booked trips only.

The revelation that Ferhane concealed important information regarding his revoked licence and subsequent application has raised concerns about the efficacy of licensing processes and the safety measures in place for taxi passengers. New mandatory nationwide taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) database checks have since been put in place.

Solicitor General Michael Tomlinson expressed shock at the case. However, he ultimately decided against referring the sentence to the Court of Appeal via the unduly lenient sentence scheme.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office said: “The Solicitor General was shocked and appalled by this case.

“After careful consideration, the Solicitor General has concluded that this case cannot properly be referred to the Court of Appeal.

“A referral under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme to the Court of Appeal can only be made if a sentence is not just lenient but unduly so, such that the sentencing judge made a gross error or imposed a sentence outside the range of sentences reasonably available in the circumstances of the offence.

“The threshold is a high one, and the test was not met in this case.”


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