Bogus taxi driver ‘sexually assaulted passenger’, court hears

The woman told the court she was making her way home through the Grassmarket.

The woman told the court she was making her way home through the Grassmarket.

A BOGUS taxi driver allegedly sexually assaulted a passenger while he was on the phone to his girlfriend, a court has heard.

Shabir Shaikh is said to have picked up the drunk woman in Edinburgh city centre before driving her to a secluded layby on the outskirts of the city where he attempted to grope her.

Shaikh, from Edinburgh, denies the alleged sex attack near to the Hillend ski centre in April last year.

The woman told a trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court that Shaikh suddenly stopped his attack on her to answer a phone call from his girlfriend.

The 32-year-old bank worker told the court that she feared she would be “raped and murdered” after realising the car she had got into was not a taxi.

The alleged victim told the court she had been out in Edinburgh city centre with two friends celebrating a birthday.

The group had been at the capital’s Cavendish nightspot before heading to the George Street bar Why Not?

At the end of the night, the woman decided to head home through the Grassmarket area where she said she encountered 32-year-old Shaikh sitting in his car.

She said: “I had decided not to stay with my friend [who lives in Edinburgh] as I just wanted to get home.

“I was slowly staggering a bit and smoking and someone asked out of a car window if they could have a cigarette.

“I said ‘no problem’ and handed it over. He asked where I was going and I said ‘I’m heading home’ and he then said ‘I’ll take you home’. I stupidly accepted and assumed he was a taxi.

“I told him the town I live in but not sure if I told him my full address.”

The woman said she got into the front passenger seat and the pair headed to the south of the city, but alarm bells began to ring when the driver failed to take any of the exits.

She said: “When he didn’t take the junction to get on the bypass I realised something wasn’t right. He carried on towards the ski slope and I asked him a number of times to turn round.

“I remember passing the Flottertsone Inn before he pulled into a layby – it was really dark and there was no lighting.

“Before the layby I was worried about what he was going to do with me. Then when we pulled over I thought it was very possible I could be raped and murdered.”

Police officers were said to have later picked the woman up as she stood waiting in the dark on the A702 city bypass at around 4.30am.

The trial continues this week.

Shaikh denies abducting the woman while posing as a taxi driver, detaining her and assaulting her near Hillend, Edinburgh, on April 12 last year.