A RAPIST who lured his victim to an empty house after she had got in his car believing he was a minicab driver has been jailed for seven years.
A trial heard that after a night out clubbing, Sajjad Afzal had been cruising the streets of central Edinburgh to satisfy his “own sexual gratification”.
The 20-year-old victim got into his car in George Street, mistakenly thinking that he was a cab driver.
But Afzal, 25, ignored her desperate pleas to be taken home and began to touch her and try to kiss her. He drove her to a friend’s home in Musselburgh, knowing there would be no-one in, and subjected her to a prolonged attack.
The case dates back to 2010 and the court heard how Afzal, who denied the charge, had since married and his wife is expecting a child.
Jailing him at the High Court in Edinburgh, judge Lord Pentland criticised the amount of time it took to bring Afzal to court as a matter of “serious public concern”. He said Afzal had been convicted of a “horrific” attack.
He told Afzal: “You have been convicted by a jury of horrific sex offences against a young woman who was a complete stranger to you.”
The judge added: “She was alone and vulnerable. Once in your car you repeatedly ignored her pleas to take her home.
“Your intention after leaving the nightclub was to find a victim on whom you could prey for your own sexual gratification.”
Afzal, of North High Street, Musselburgh, had denied the rape on May 3, 2010, but a jury found him guilty after trial.
Defence solicitor advocate John Keenan, defending, said Afzal, who works in his father’s business, still maintained his innocence.
The lawyer said that since May 2010, Afzal had married and his wife was now expecting their first child in November. The delay in the court proceedings had had a devastating effect both on Afzal and his family, he said.
Lord Pentland had harsh words to say about the length of time taken to bring Afzal to justice.
The court had heard details from advocate depute Douglas Fairley QC of delays in preparation for trial.
The judge said: “It is a matter of serious public concern that it should have taken more than two years for this case to come to trial.”
Since May 2009, all private hire cars in the city have to display signs saying they cannot pick up people from the street without having been pre-booked.