An Uber driver has been jailed for raping a young woman in the back seat of his car.
When a 19-year-old woman realised it was inevitable that her Uber driver was going to rape her on the back seat of his car she asked him to wear a condom – not to indicate consent, but as a last-minute act of self-preservation.
That was the argument of Crown prosecutor Mitchell McClenaghan at the sentencing of the 32-year-old Uber driver in the Christchurch District Court on Tuesday.
The man was jailed for seven years and three months after being found guilty of two charges of sexual violation by rape in October.
He had stood trial on eight sexual offence charges, but was cleared of six.
The rape happened in January last year when the defendant, who cannot currently be named for legal reasons, picked up the woman in the early morning at an address in Christchurch.
She had spent the night with friends, drinking at a local bar, and was intoxicated, had used ecstasy and taken prescription medication.
On the ride home, the woman asked for cigarettes and the driver offered her cannabis.
They drove to Woodham Park where they sat in the backseat of the car while they smoked the drug. The driver then drove back to the her house while she was still in the back seat.
At the house, the defendant joined her in the back seat and raped her.
During trial the woman said when she realised she was about to be raped, she was terrified of getting a sexually transmitted infection or getting pregnant.
She asked her rapist to wear a condom, but he didn’t have one. She then gave him a condom out of her bag.
The defendant put on the condom and raped her. He then removed it and raped her again.
Judge Stephen O’Driscoll said when police initially spoke to the defendant, he denied sexual contact had occurred.
However, he later told a probation officer the complainant had showed interest in him and offered to have sex with him, which he accepted.
The judge rejected the defendant’s claim that he had mistakenly believed the woman had consented to sex, saying he accepted her evidence that she said no when he attempted to have intercourse with her.
“She was vulnerable due to her state of intoxication and she was not able to give free and informed consent.”
Defence counsel Christopher Lange said certain facts, including that the woman asked the defendant to wear a condom, indicated that she “had the ability to consent, but one that the jury found was unreasonable”.
McClenaghan opposed this, saying it was merely an act of self-preservation when the woman knew she was going to be raped.
Judge O’Driscoll said the far-reaching effects of the ordeal was clear when reading her victim impact statement.
She was subject to an invasive medical exam, had to undergo counselling and things such as sitting in the back seat of a car remain challenging for her.
“She says as a result of your actions, she feels worthless and utterly broken.”
Judge O’Driscoll declined an application to grant the defendant permanent name suppression, though the man cannot yet be identified as his legal team is appealing the judge’s decision.
This was not the first time a Christchurch woman had been raped while taking an Uber-ride home. In July last year, Moses Gengo-Yon Ravanes was jailed for six years and six months for raping a drunk passenger he had picked up outside a bar in the central city.