Cab driver jailed for sexual assault of scared customer

IPSWICH: A former town cabbie is behind bars after being convicted of sexually assaulting a woman he had previously driven home.

Gary Mills, 48, of Tudor Place, Ipswich, had dropped his victim at her house in April last year but returned less than two weeks later on the premise of “popping in for a coffee” with her.

However, once inside he began making suggestive comments and pestered her for sex, putting his hands under her top and groping her.

Ipswich Crown Court heard that Mills only left when he heard a dog barking and the “terrified” victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, later contacted the police.

Judge John Holt read out a statement given in evidence by the victim, who said she had reluctantly let Mills into her home and his true intentions quickly became apparent.

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She said: “As matters progressed he put his hand out – I thought he was going to shake my hand and I went to shake it but he laughed and said ‘I don’t want to shake your hand’. Instead he gave me a cuddle and pulled me towards him with his arms.

“I felt scared. He said ‘we will have to keep this quiet – do you want to go upstairs?’.”

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Simon Gledhill, mitigating, said Mills was keen to “address his attitudes” towards women and the “issues” that had led him to act in such a way, which had caused his wife to leave him.

The judge said Mills had left his “petrified” victim suffering from depression and night terrors and his actions clearly passed the custody threshold.

He said: “You have been convicted by a jury of an offence of sexual assault at the time you were a taxi driver and you obtained from the computer the number of a client who you had given a fare.

“She was clearly terrified of you. You clearly persisted in your approach for sex. In my judgement you used your position of employment to obtain a position of trust, which you breached.”

The judge said the sentence would reflect the need to protect against Mills’ “predatory behaviour” and described the assault as “premeditated”.

He was sentenced to 12 months in prison and was told he would serve half of the term before being eligible for release.

Mills, who was convicted after a trial at the court in December, was also placed on the sex offenders’ register for ten years and was banned from driving a taxi or private hire car for a similar length of time.

Richard Morphew, a director of Hawk Express Cabs Limited, said Mills had been in the trade for 20 years before he was suspended and then dismissed as soon as the allegations came to light.

He said: “We are very strict on the behaviour of our drivers to all customers, and at the point our management was made aware of the accusations made towards Mr Mills, he was called to the office and suspended whilst an investigation took place regarding the complaint.”

He said he wanted to reassure the public that taking a taxi or private hire car home was always a much safer option than walking.

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