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Driver jailed for assault while passenger slept

PUBLISHED: 14:32 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:26 25 August 2010

A FORMER mini-cab driver has been jailed for four years for an indecent assault on a woman four years ago.

A FORMER mini-cab driver has been jailed for four years for an indecent assault on a woman four years ago.

Karim Merali, 48, of Dalston Gardens, Stanmore, Middlesex, appeared at Woolwich Crown Court on January 21 charged with indecent assault in Sidcup in 2002.

He was convicted three days later and sentenced on last Wednesday.

The court heard that a woman, then aged 30, was in Covent Garden on September 27, 2002, with colleagues.

Suffering from jetlag after just returning from a holiday in Australia, she agreed to an unlicensed cab to take her back home.

The man in a mini-cab, later identified as Merali, agreed to take her to Sidcup for £20.

During the journey she fell asleep in the back of the cab and woke to find Merali kneeling over her.

He then got out of the back seat and drove her home.

The victim knew something had happened as she had to adjust her clothing and a relative persuaded her to call the police.

Mouth swabs and investigations revealed that she had been orally assaulted and a full DNA profile was obtained.

Merali was arrested three years later for operating as an unlicensed mini-cab driver and a routine DNA swab matched him to the sexual assault.

Investigating officer DC Peter Thompson said: "Merali committed this serious offence whilst in a position of trust, posing as a mini-cab driver.

"He is a clear threat to women and the seriousness of this offence is reflected in the sentence handed down by the judge.

"The victim has had to relieve the ordeal from six years ago and I pay tribute to her courage and strength.

"We will investigate all allegations of indecent and sexual assault. Even if they are unsolved at the time, they are not

forgotten.

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