A TEENAGER has been sexually assaulted by the driver of a minibus she thought was a cab.
The 19-year-old was attacked early Thursday morning after a night out in the Capital.
She was picked up on Regent Road, at the foot of Calton Hill, and dropped off at the top of Easter Road, where she was helped by a genuine tax driver.
“This man has preyed on a vulnerable young woman and this was an extremely frightening ordeal for her, she is now receiving support from specially trained officers,” said DI Kevin Harkins.
“I am very grateful to the taxi driver who helped her and thanks to him and the victim, we have a good description of the vehicle and the offender.
“This was a serious sexual assault and are keen to speak to anyone who may have seen the vehicle in the city centre in the early hours of yesterday morning, or may recognise it or the driver.”
The woman was sitting on a bench in Regent Road at 5.45am on Thursday when she was approached by the driver of a grey minibus or people carrier, possibly a VW Transporter.
The vehicle had windows all along the sides with curtains. She accepted a lift, thinking it was a private hire cab, before being attacked and then driven to the top of Easter Road.
The distraught victim got out and was helped by the good samaritan taxi driver on Montrose Terrace at around 6.15am.
Her attacker is described as white, in his late 30s or early 40s, of large build, 5ft 10ins tall with a large nose and short dark hair. He was wearing a light blue or grey polo shirt and light denim jeans.
After dropping her off, he is believed to have driven over the junction with London Road, carrying on down Easter Road towards Leith.
Chief Inspector Gill Geany said: “This type of incident is very rare in Edinburgh, and the vast majority of people who enjoy a night out in Edinburgh do so safely.
“There are extra officers on patrol in the city centre as part of Operation Summer City alongside partner colleagues, please speak to them if you have any information or need any help and advice.
“We encourage everyone visiting Edinburgh city centre, whether for the festival or at any other time of the year, to have fun and enjoy what the capital has to offer, but always think in advance about how you are going to get home and look after your valuables and your friends.”
Edinburgh Taxi Association member Ali McPherson, 53, said the proliferation of private hire cars to 2,000 in Edinburgh makes for an ideal hunting ground for “predators.”
He added: “This will continue happening, we know it will. These predators are rubbing their hands now there’s so many cars.”
Mr Mcpherson called for greater awareness of the difference between black cabs, which can legally pick-up fares on the street, and private hires that need to be pre-booked.
And he urged revellers to be careful, particularly women out alone, having spotted suspicious drivers in the city centre.
“Obviously they could be waiting for family members but you go on your gut reaction,” said Mr McPherson. “It’s very strange for a guy to be sat there by himself at 3am just watching what’s going on.”
Anyone with information can contact police on 101 quoting incident 598 of Thursday 10th August, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.