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Taxi CCTV helps jail Southampton cabbie who sexually assaulted 21-year old woman

Updated: May 22, 2023

Image credit: Hampshire Constabulary

Using in-taxi CCTV, a Southampton taxi driver was jailed after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman.

Hardeep Landa, 30, was jailed for six years and eight months after sexually assaulting the 21-year-old woman in a car park on St. Mary’s Road in the early hours of Wednesday 26 October 2022.

“I felt so dirty. Disgusted with myself. I weirdly felt guilty…like a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. I have never experienced this feeling before in my life. It made my skin crawl.” Those are the words of a young woman who was sexually assaulted during a night out in Southampton in late October last year and which were read out at Southampton Crown Court as the man responsible for the attack was sentenced. The court had heard how that the woman had been with friends enjoying an evening out at a local bar on Bevois Valley Road that evening. She made a call to a friend in the Bournemouth area just prior to 12.30am to suggest she would be visiting them; but she never arrived.

She could not recall the events that unfolded beyond that, but was later told by friends the following day what had occurred to her. In her impact statement, the woman said of the moment she had been told what had happened: “When I woke up and came downstairs, I was told by my closest friend what had happened. I naturally broke down straight away…I was sobbing…I felt really sick.” The woman’s friends had located her, with the assistance of security staff from The Edge nightclub, in the back of a licensed taxi in a car park on St. Mary’s Road in a state of undress. Her shoes were found in the front footwell of the vehicle, her mobile phone on the driver’s seat; while Landa’s shoes were located in the back of the vehicle alongside his mobile phone. A number of missed calls from concerned friends were made to the woman between 1.37am and 1.49am; before they located her in the vehicle and contacted police. In her statement, she continued by saying: “After I had a shower, I still felt like I wasn’t clean. I scrubbed and scrubbed like I was nearly scrubbing my skin off. I came out of the shower red.” The court also heard how Southampton City Council officers from the Licensing Team worked with Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary during the investigation to identify Landa as a licensed private hire driver.

Council officers followed the procedure to revoke the licence with immediate effect at the earliest opportunity whilst police enquiries were conducted. Footage from a taxi camera inside the vehicle captured the assault – which was subsequently provided by Southampton City Council as evidence – which played a critical role in securing a conviction against Landa. In a previous hearing at Southampton Crown Court on Tuesday 18 April, Landa pleaded guilty to one count of assault by penetration and two counts of sexual assault. Appearing at Southampton Crown Court Hardeep Landa was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison. He was also made subject of a lifetime Sexual Harm Prevention Order and placed on the Sex Offenders Register for an indefinite period.

In passing sentence, the judge described Landa’s actions and behaviour that evening as ‘both criminal and shocking’ and stated that ‘you took advantage of a very impaired young female and continued to assault her for your own sexual gratification’. Detective Constable Emma Cooke, who led the investigation, said: “This was a vile attack on a woman who was clearly in a very vulnerable state that evening.

“Hardeep Landa showed no regard for the woman’s safety. He simply took it upon himself to prey on her vulnerable status in order to take advantage of her for his own sexual gratification. “The impact that his actions have had on the woman are unmeasurable. It is clear to see that these have had a lasting, damaging effect on her. “Whilst today’s sentence cannot take away the pain and agony that she has had to deal with on a day-to-day basis following the harrowing incident, we hope that this provides her with some closure. He is now behind bars for an extended period of time and can no longer cause her, or others in the community, harm. “We know that this incident will have an impact on how women and young girls may view licenced taxi drivers in Southampton going forward, but we want to re-iterate that the vast majority of taxi drivers are genuine and have no intentions of causing harm to their customers. “However, it is important to be careful and put plans in place to ensure your own personal safety. We would advise people using taxis whilst out in the night time economy to, where possible, travel in a larger group – so you’re not left alone and feeling vulnerable. “If you do enter a taxi on your own; consider noting down the driver's name and appearance, licence registration plate and make / model and colour of the vehicle. This will help identify any vehicle in the event of an investigation. “Always ensure friends or family know that you have got into a taxi, at what time and details of your final destination. After all, it is better to be safe and for those closest to you to know that you are home safely after a night out.” Phil Bates, Licensing Manager at Southampton City Council, said: “The council undertake robust checks on all drivers licensed by them, including an enhanced police check every 6 months. “This case highlights the excellent working relationship between the police and council officers by facilitating in the immediate revocation of the licence and the sharing of evidence, it also appears to be a prime example of the benefits of mandating the fitting of permanently recording taxi cameras. “Southampton City Council led the way in mandating cameras in taxis are fully operational throughout journeys carrying passengers – and we remain one of a small number of councils to do so. This helps to ensure that Southampton-based licenced taxis are a safer option than licensed taxis elsewhere. “We would like to reassure people that travel by taxi in Southampton is a safe option for people travelling around late at night.” DC Emma Cooke continued: “Rape and other sexual offences are one of the most devastating crimes a person can survive and that’s why we prioritise it. We want to continue to encourage people to come forward if they believe that they have been a victim of a sexual assault. “We take these reports very seriously. We do not want you to suffer in silence. There is no need to feel shame for what may have happened to you or to blame yourself if you were intoxicated and cannot recall what happened. Intoxication does not equal consent. “If in seeing today’s verdict, you too believe you may have been a victim of sexual advances made by Hardeep Landa whilst being a passenger in his private hire vehicle, we would please implore you to come forward. We appreciate that this may be difficult for you, but we are keen to see that further justice is served if he has exploited other vulnerable women. “We will continue to relentlessly pursue criminals so that their lives, not those of local people, are a misery. We are absolutely clear that this behaviour will not be tolerated. “Criminals need to know that Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is a hostile environment for them, and that every effort will be made to seek justice for victims.”


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