A former taxi driver charged with allegedly indecently touching a female customer as he drove her home failed to show up in court on time over two days, with a magistrate remarking that he seemed to think “if he just ignores it, it will all go away”.
Rahul, who has no last name, arrived at the ACT Magistrates Court late on Wednesday (1 December) and began to argue with Magistrate Robert Cook, interrupting him at times.
“You are not listening to even a single word,” the 26-year-old told him.
“I’m here just because of my colour, sir,” he said, describing himself as Indian.
No, Magistrate Cook replied, explaining Rahul had pleaded guilty to an offence.
Court documents state the woman had gone to a taxi rank near East Row in Civic at about 2:30 am on 29 November 2020, and Rahul agreed to drive her home.
She sat in the front passenger seat next to him, and while they were driving, Rahul allegedly told her how attractive she was and began stroking her leg.
“[The woman] felt uncomfortable but tried to remain friendly to avoid being left on the side of the road,” police allege.
Rahul allegedly rubbed her legs, then tried to put his hand up her dress, but she told him “no”.
Police allege he turned off the taxi fare meter, grabbed her wrist and tried to make her touch his genitals, but she pulled away and tried to laugh it off as a joke.
He allegedly tried to put his hand up her dress a second time, touched her breast twice and tried to put her hand on his genitals again, but she still told him to stop.
“But I thought we were friends,” he allegedly said.
“Even if we were friends, that doesn’t mean I want to touch your d–k,” she replied.
He asked if anyone was waiting for her at home and she made up a story about her boyfriend being there.
Rahul didn’t show up to court on time again on Thursday (2 December). Magistrate Cook remarked that he seemed to think “if he just ignores it, it will all go away”.
The court heard he had pleaded guilty to a charge of committing an act of indecency without consent in March this year and was scheduled to be sentenced.
But when he eventually arrived on Thursday, he spoke with Legal Aid’s Solitaire Zahnleiter who then reported to the court that he had decided to traverse his plea, which means he will likely apply to withdraw it.
Magistrate Cook set the traversal application down for a hearing on 15 June 2022.