Thu, 06 Dec 2018
A NEWBURY taxi driver who attacked vulnerable female passengers does not need a tougher sentence to protect the public, top judges have ruled.
Ruhen Miah, of Charter Road, was jailed for 14 years at Reading Crown Court in September.
The 43-year-old admitted rape, attempted rape, assault by penetration and two counts of sexual assault after he became depressed following the closure of his Indian restaurant on Cheap street in Newbury.
Before sending him down, Judge Angela Morris reduced Miah's jail term by a third - from 21 years - to reflect his early guilty pleas.
Today at London’s Appeal Court, solicitor Robert Buckland argued Miah was 'dangerous' and deserved a much tougher sentence.
But three senior judges who presided over the appeal, led by Lady Justice Rafferty, refused to increase Miah's term after rejecting claims it was unduly lenient.
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”.
He raped his fourth victim on the night of February 24 after picking her up from Newbury and driving her to a flat in the area.
The victim, who was heavily intoxicated, had no memory of leaving the pub.
Judge Morris, who jailed Miah, said his victims were particularly vulnerable as they had been drinking and 'they relied on him to take them home'.
The Crown Court judge added it was “noteworthy the offences escalated in seriousness”.
But she stopped short of ruling Miah a dangerous offender.
Mr Buckland argued that the 14-year jail term was “inadequate to protect the public” and claimed it was wrong not to have concluded that Miah was dangerous.
Miah, Mr Buckland argued, should either have been given a life sentence, or an extended term with extra time to serve on licence after his release.
Michael Wolkind, defending Miah, said the judge had been right not to condemn him as dangerous.
Mr Wolkind also claimed the 14-year jail term was too tough and should be reduced, commenting that Miah was of previous good character and a “person of reputation” who was remorseful for his actions.
Reading Crown Court had heard that Miah's “happy and stable” marriage had deteriorated after his wife pressurised him to find new premises for his 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.
A psychological assessment of Miah diagnosed an acute stress-related adjustment disorder.
Mr Wolkind argued that Miah had not used or threatened to use weapons, or made threats to kill, and it was his mental health problems which 'led to his disgraceful crimes'.
Lady Justice Rafferty said the Crown Court judge had considered 'all of the evidence' including reports from the probation officer and two psychiatrists.
Justice Rafferty said: "We are not persuaded the judge was properly driven to conclude, or bound to make, a finding of statutory dangerousness."
Miah's sentence was neither unduly lenient, nor manifestly excessive, and would remain the same, she concluded.