Melbourne: A 30-year-old Indian taxi driver has been sentenced to six years in prison in Australia for raping a drunk and vulnerable teenage schoolgirl who he had been asked to drop home.
County Court judge Wendy Wilmoth said Nitin Rana, who was found guilty by a jury of three counts of rape, had preyed on the 17-year-old girl when she was in such an intoxicated state that she could not sit up straight in the taxi or even fasten her seatbelt.
Rana was jailed for six years with a non-parole period of four years and the Judge ordered him to be placed on the sex offenders register for 15 years, according to a media report.
The report said that the teenaged passenger was in such an intoxicated state that she could not sit up straight in the taxi or even fasten her seatbelt.
Rana was given 50 dollars by a group of good Samaritans to take the girl home.
"The public is entitled to expect to be safe in taxis; parents should be able to trust that their teenage children will be safe in taxis," Wilmoth told Rana.
"This girl`s safety was entrusted to you when the people who helped her gave you the money for her fare, to take her safely home.
"Instead you violated that trust when you raped her."
"[The victim was a child, and at the time she was struggling with personal issues and had consumed a large amount of both medication and alcohol," the judge said.
"She was very drunk, and this could be seen from her condition and behaviour before and at the time of getting into your taxi.
"It is clear from the verdict that the jury accepted that you knew what her condition was," Wilmoth said.
The teenager had been drinking vodka at a friend`s house before sharing a taxi with a male friend to a railway station in Melbourne`s east at about 1 am on November 4 last year.
While her friend continued home in the taxi after dropping her at the station, the victim got stranded as she had no money and no way of getting home as trains had stopped running for the night.
She also accepted two valium tablets from a couple who she came across and she described as junkies.
While she was trying to walk down the street, a married couple and two friends who were attending a birthday party dinner saw her fall over and tried to help to reach home. The group tried to help the teenager and even called the emergency number.
Rana who drove past during that time in his taxi was then given 50 Australian dollars to take the teenage to her place. Rana drove off and then raped the teenager before dropping her home.
The teenager told her mother the next day that she had been sexually assaulted. Wilmoth noted that Rana hailed from well regarded middle-class family in Hyderabad and had completed a commerce degree before working for several multinational companies in India.
He had migrated to Australia in 2008 where he completed a diploma course in hospitality and management.
He was driving a taxi to support himself and to save money to return to India.
The judge said she had received letters from Rana`s family and two friends expressing their faith in him as "a good person, well brought up, and respectful of women".
Wilmoth said, "The charges are very serious indeed, and in this case there are some aggravating features."