Fri, 21 Sept 2018
A NEWBURY taxi driver who sexually assaulted four vulnerable young intoxicated women has been jailed.
Ruhen Miah, of Charter Road, carried out the attacks - which all took place in Newbury - over a six week period between January 1 and February 24.
Reading Crown Court heard today (Friday) that the former "pillar of the community" committed the offences after he became depressed following the closure of his Indian restaurant on Cheap street in Newbury, turning him into a "monster" practically overnight.
The first incident took place in the early hours of January 1, where he sexually assaulted his first victim.
Miah then struck twice in two days on January 19 and 20 with an attempted rape, and digital penetration.
A month later, on February 24, he raped his fourth victim.
Miah was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment at Reading Crown Court today (Friday).
The court heard how Miah had targeted young, vulnerable women – three of whom were teenagers – who got into his taxi after a night out in Newbury.
All were heavily intoxicated, with one telling police she was “obliterated” and another “the drunkest I had ever been”.
The court heard how Miah had sexually assaulted two women within just 90 minutes of each other on January 19 and 20.
One incident saw Miah tell a male passenger, who initially got into the taxi with the woman, to leave, telling him that the woman’s friend had not invited him back.
He dropped the man off in Newbury town centre, promising him he would “get her home safely.”
Video footage from a dashboard camera Miah had in his vehicle showed the moment he later began assaulting the woman, before the device was switched off.
Over an hour later, he tried to rape another woman who he picked up in town.
After driving past her house, he crawled into the back of his cab with her, where he exposed himself and performed a sex act.
On the night of February 24, Miah, who is of Bangladeshi origin, drove a woman to a flat.
Parking outside the block of flats, he carried the woman over his shoulder and walked up a short flight of stairs into the property.
It was there where he pushed his victim onto a sofa, telling her: “In my country, we are very respectful of women”.
He then sexually assaulted her before raping her.
The woman said she could not remember most of the incident.
The following day, the woman went to hospital for a hurt ankle she had sustained during the night out; telling hospital staff that she had been raped.
Michael Wolkind, defending, said: “A taxi should be a place of trust, your driver should be your polite, decent friend for a while, whatever the state of the passenger.
“This was a decent young man, popular at school with good manners.”
Citing there must be an explanation in his “extraordinary” change of character, Mr Wolkind, consulted forensic psychiatrist Dr Michael Alcock, who described Miah’s personal circumstances leading up to the series of assaults.
Miah, Dr Alcock said, was a well-known character in Newbury owing to his “successful” Indian restaurant which he ran up until its closure in 2017.
But his “happy and stable” marriage soon deteriorated after his wife pressurised him to find new premises for the business, claiming they needed the income to send their son to a private school.
Miah, who once saw himself as “pillar of the community” in Newbury, subsequently became depressed, developed symptoms of anxiety, sexual tension with his wife and had difficulties eating and sleeping.
“He was angry with himself. He lost track of reality,” Dr Alcock said, who likened Miah’s change in character to that of transforming into a “monster” overnight.
In his psychological assessment of Miah, Dr Alcock diagnosed an acute stress-related adjustment disorder.
"What’s the difference between having an adjustment disorder and raping drunk women?” Mr Blake asked.
Dr Alcock replied it was Miah’s inability to cope with social factors as well as his feelings of failure and isolation.
Mr Wolkind asked for leniency in his sentencing, commenting that his client had not lived his life as a predator, but as a good person who “went wrong, because his business went wrong.”
“The presence of an adjustment disorder made a difference to him,” Mr Wolkind added.
Miah pleaded guilty to one count of rape, one count of attempted rape, two counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual assault by penetration at previous court hearings.
Weighing up Miah’s decision to enter guilty pleas to all counts, Judge Angela Morris reduced Miah's sentence by a third - from 21 years - to reflect his early guilty pleas.
She said: “It is clear you have been a hard-working and respectable man most of your life, which makes your offending all the more despicable.
“The common thread is that all four of these young women were comatose or semi-comatose.
“You allowed vulnerable women into your clutches for your own sexual gratification.
“You took advantage of them and were prepared to manipulate the situation to your advantage.”
Miah stood with his hands held in front of him and closely listened to his translator as Judge Morris sentenced him to 14 years in prison.
She also issued him with a Sexual Harm Prevention order and made him to pay a statutory surplus charge of £170.
Investigating officer DCI Matt Stone told NewburyToday: "This is a rare incident where an individual was looking to exploit his position of trust to gain access to others.
"He was working as an individual licenced taxi driver, but it is important to reiterate that the vast majority of taxi drivers transport people from A to B perfectly safely.
"All of Miah's victims were in their early to mid-twenties. All we have to point to is the women were all intoxicated. That is where he identified vulnerability.
"I'd like to say thank you to the young women for their resolve and courage for reporting it and working with us to support the investigation and bring him to justice.
"If people have been subject to a sexual assault in whatever shape or form, I'd encourage them to have the confidence to report it to the police or another professional."
DCI Stone confirmed that Miah was acting alone and did not have an accomplice and was not part of a network.
He added that there was nothing in Miah's background to suggest he was a threat to others and said he had "no issue" with West Berkshire Council's licencing checks.
Miah was issued a licence by the local authority in December 2016.
Explaining how they found Miah, he said: "We had one initial report from young lady that she had been sexually assaulted.
"A few weeks later another woman came forward and based on the similarity of the accounts they both gave we were able to link the two.
"We continued to investigate and carried out a significant amount of CCTV work in Newbury.
"Through assessment of the CCTV, we identified a suspect vehicle based on the markings.
"We worked closely with West Berkshire Council, the licencing authority, and they were able to provide us with support to id the vehicle and the licence attached to it.
"That led us to one specific vehicle, which was Miah's.
"Miah was subsequently arrested and interviewed and forensic samples were taken from him.
"We were also able to identify a number of other scenes and forensic samples were taken from those too.
"We were able to recover in-car CCTV system from Miah's vehicle and while it did not have evidence of sexual assault, there were concerning behaviours towards two further victims.
"We were able to identify those two women and interviewed them. They both confirmed they were subjected to a sexual assault.
"This all then built up a picture of evidential quality."