Man mistaken for taxi driver jailed for student sex attack

A MAN who carried out a drug-fuelled sex attack after being mistaken for a taxi driver has been jailed for five years.

After being taken to a deserted car park and subjected to a violent indecent assault, a 20-year-old student fled barefoot, leaving her underwear and other possessions in Manzoor Hassan's car.

At the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday, judge Lady Smith told Hassan, 34, that he had taken advantage of a vulnerable young woman who was a stranger to the city. His claim that he was high on cannabis was no excuse.

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Lady Smith was shown CCTV footage of the a student heading away from a nightclub, apparently drunk and trying to look at a map.

Advocate depute Derek Ogg QC, prosecuting, said the student was also trying to hail a taxi in the early hours of 1 February last year, but without success.

She made her way to South Bridge, Edinburgh, and got into the back of Hassan's car. Instead of correcting her mistake, Hassan began to drive around and took her to the Longstone area of the city.

In the car park of a former DIY store in Inglis Green Road he got into the back of the car.

Mr Ogg said that after a struggle the student was able to make it to a nearby house for help.

Hassan, of Home Street, Tollcross, Edinburgh, was accused of attempted rape but halted a planned trial by pleading guilty to a reduced charge of abduction and indecent assault.

Solicitor advocate Jim Keegan QC, defending, said Hassan was ashamed of his behaviour.

He said: "He fully accepts that what he did was wrong. He is finding it difficult to understand why he behaved the way he did. He has been smoking cannabis for a long time but he maintains that what he did that night was out of character."

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Lady Smith, passing sentence, told Hassan that the student's visit to Edinburgh had the makings of a happy night.

"Thanks to you, that is not what it proved to be."

The judge said the CCTV footage as the student left a night spot in Market Street showed her to be "extremely vulnerable".

Lady Smith added: "What she needed was a licensed taxi to uplift her and take her safely back to the hostel where she was staying. What she did not need was the nightmare experience which followed, an experience for which you were entirely responsible."

The judge made an order extending Hassan's licence conditions by three years and said that because the student had to travel to court to give evidence before Hassan admitted the offence she would not cut the sentence because of his guilty plea. Hassan's name is also on the sex offenders' register.