A “seedy” Uber driver who took a passenger on a detour and ran his hand up her thigh was sentenced to jail for seven months.
Dorin Visanu, 30, molested the woman after picking her up in Clapham, late in the evening of September 2.
She ordered the UberPool to take her home to Shoreditch, and jumped in the front passenger seat when Visanu pulled up.
Prosecutor Grace Ong said “within a minute of getting into the cab Mr Visanu asked her inappropriate questions,” grilling the woman about whether she was single or living with a boyfriend.
“These questions made her feel uncomfortable,” she said, adding that the driver laughed and asked her out despite being told she “wasn’t interested.”
“At this stage he had already touched her on numerous occasions on the thigh area,” said Ms Ong.
The woman told jurors she tried “ignoring him” but still felt “really uncomfortable” during the journey.
“At that stage it was the inappropriate questions,” she explained.
“It was the way he was talking, it was a bit seedy.”
But she said the ride took an ominous turn once Visanu dropped two other fares off in Shoreditch High Street.
“I didn’t live too far away, it was one straight road to my house and one right turn,” the woman said, giving evidence from behind screens.
“Rather than going that way, the driver turned right and started taking me down all these backstreets and roads I had never seen before.
“I didn’t know where I was.”
She said she “panicked” at having to ask why Visanu was lingering at a set of traffic lights after they had turned green.
Visanu replied: “Oh, I thought you were asleep.”
Ms Ong suggested Visanu had been looking for “a quiet spot off the main road” to sexually assault her.
“That’s when I really started to worry, because he wasn’t even looking at the road, he was looking at me,” the complainant continued.
“After the lights had changed and he drove off, while he was changing gear he leaned over to brush my leg.
“I had this dress on that he also pulled on to brush the top of my thigh.’
An Old Bailey jury took just took two hours to convict the married driver of sexual assault.
Judge Anthony Leonard QC said: ‘This is a substantial breach of trust and for someone to do this as a cab driver is appalling.”
In a victim impact statement read to the court, the woman said she had felt “very paranoid” since the assault and didn’t want to leave her flat.
Visanu was arrested two-and-a-half weeks after the incident and gave a prepared statement in interview claiming that he chats to all passengers but means nothing by it. He also insisted that any touching was “absolutely accidental.”
Giving evidence, the driver admitted that his initial claims that the “drunk” woman had been “smashing things” in the car were a pack of lies in response to the woman’s complaint to Uber.
Visanu said he was “scared” about losing his job.
Visanu, of Harlow, Essex, was sentenced for seven months for one count of sexual assault today.