Private hire driver ‘not proven’ of sexual assault on passengers

Private hire driver Ihsan Yurbas found 'not proven' of sexually assaulting two female passengers but guilty of stealing one womans phone.
Picture: Vic Rodrick.
Private hire driver Ihsan Yurbas found 'not proven' of sexually assaulting two female passengers but guilty of stealing one womans phone. Picture: Vic Rodrick.

A private hire taxi driver has been found ‘not proven’ of sexually assaulting two vulnerable young female passengers.

Ihsan Yurbas was accused of groping the women in two separate incidents more than 20 months apart.

The first attack on an 18-year-old female was alleged to have taken place during an early morning journey between Hanover Street and Bathfield, Edinburgh, on 2 June 2013.

The second, on a 24-year-old mother of two, was alleged to have happened on a journey from Edinburgh to Broxburn, West Lothian, on 21 February 2015.

Yurbas denied both charges as well as an allegation that he stole the second woman’s mobile phone.

Under the mutual corroboration doctrine the two women had to support each other’s story for Yurbas to be found guilty.

However, a sheriff ruled that the evidence given by the second alleged victim was not sufficiently credible or reliable to support a conviction.

As a result, Sheriff Martin Edington said he had to find both sexual assault charges “not proven”, although he did find Yurbas guilty of stealing the phone, saying that keeping the device because she hadn’t paid the fare was “clearly theft”.

He told Yurbas: “In charge one the complainer was a first class witness – wholly credible and reliable – and I accept her evidence in its entirety. I have no doubt that you sexually assaulted her as is alleged.

“Turning to charge two, the complainer holds the key to this because unless I find her credible and reliable you will get off – and I do mean get off – with being convicted of both charges one and two.

“She was drunk and her whole story was stretching credibility a little. But her being sick in your taxi; changing her mind about where she wanted to go; how it was all to be paid for, and then her behaviour when she exited your vehicle and what she said or did not say to the other witnesses – of whom there is no criticism – is just not sufficiently credible or reliable to allow me to accept her evidence to the standard I require to convict you of charge two, much as I suspect you did behave inappropriately towards her.

“As I cannot convict you of charge two then unfortunately I cannot convict you of charge one and therefore I find the case against you not proven on both charges.”

He told Yurbas, 41, who is currently homeless and sleeping rough in his car in Edinburgh, that he was unhappy at him giving his bail address as care of his solicitor.

He said: “I’m going to defer sentence for a very lengthy period of time so I can find out what has happened. It may be the sheriff clerk will be instructed to write to the taxi authority with details of this case.

“I have serious concern, which I know is not shared by every sheriff, about a solicitor’s office being used as a bail address.

“Plenty of the solicitors will offer that because it’s better than being remanded in custody but I tend not to go for that. I don’t think it’s right and I don’t think it’s fair. It’s not going to continue.”

He gave Yurbas – who has no income because his tax driver’s licence has been suspended – 48 hours to find accommodation or face the prospect of being remanded in custody.

During the trial a sales executive, now aged 22 and living in London. Told how Yurbas groped her in his taxi during a weekend out in Edinburgh in 2013.

She claimed he repeatedly leaned over and touched her from her thigh up to my waist as he drove her home alone.

She told the court: “The first time I just kind of froze, to be honest. It’s never happened before so I didn’t know if something worse was about to happen.

“I asked him not to touch me and I said I had a boyfriend who definitely would not be happy if he found out he’d done that. I was crying.

“He said he didn’t have a wife so he could touch me if he wanted to.”

The mum of two said she tried to jump out of the accused’s moving minicab after he groped her and asked her to perform a sex act on him.

She said she already felt uncomfortable with Yurbas because he repeatedly touched her leg and shoulder as he drove.

“When he was changing the gears and I was crying upset, he touched my knee with his hand and told me: ‘Don’t worry. It’ll be OK’.

“That’s when he turned round and said to me: ‘Some girls offer blow jobs’, meaning that he was expecting something in return for the journey.

“I turned round and went to grab the door and open it. He ‘s grabbed me. I started hitting him on the chest.”

She said she grabbed the passenger door and the handle with both hands to escape.

She added: “As I turned, he turned and he grabbed my two legs to pull me back. He’s grabbed my tights. I had holes in my tights, but I didn’t even notice any of that until later on.

“I was scared. I just wanted to get out of the car.”

Yurbas is due to appear for sentence today.