Uber driver accused of sexually assaulting sleeping woman

Uber driver Najamulhassan Qureshi frwas cleared of sexually assaulting a 22-year female passenger at the Old Bailey today

An Uber driver accused of assaulting a female customer when she fell asleep on the journey home has been cleared after a jury heard she tried to hug him.   

Najamulhassan Qureshi, 35, from Hounslow, west London, was alleged to have climbed onto the back seat with the 22-year-old woman, kissed her neck and slid a hand up her skirt.

She then realised what was happening and managed to escape from the car, parked near her home in the Isle of Dogs in east London, the Old Bailey heard.

Qureshi later denied sexually assaulting the woman and claimed that she got ‘very angry’ when he sneezed on her mobile phone and rejected her drunken advances. 

He insisted the woman was a drunken troublemaker who tried to get into the front passenger seat to hug him.

The married father-of-one, from Pakistan, told jurors he pushed the woman back and told her to leave his car in the early hours of January 23.

He claimed the alleged victim reacted by racially abusing him and warning: ‘You will pay’.

Qureshi said: ‘I parked up on the main road and I just said: “Madame, my job is finished, please leave the car.”

‘After that she said: “Why baby, come and give me a hug” and she tried to come over to me.

‘I said: “Madame, don’t touch me and please leave the car.”’

Qureshi said the alleged victim, who was on her way home from a night of drinking, called him a ‘f****** P***’ when he pushed her back towards the backseat and asked her to get out.

He claimed he then noticed she had dropped her jacket and mobile phone on the floor of his minicab.

The 22-year-old woman tried to hug Uber driver Qureshi and called him a f****** P***' 

The 22-year-old woman tried to hug Uber driver Qureshi and called him a f****** P***’ 

The defendant told jurors the woman became enraged and shouted ‘what the s*** are you doing mother******’ when he inadvertently sneezed on the smartphone as he handed it back to her.

‘She was very aggressive, she was just very aggressive,’ he added.

‘I don’t know the word, she said “you mother******”, you will pay for it”.

‘Maybe I think she will call Uber and get the money back or something like that.’

Qureshi said he completed another journey after the encounter but was suspended from Uber and arrested within a week. 

Chiara Maddocks, defending, said: ‘Did you make any attempt to kiss her that morning?’

The defendant replied: ‘No.’

Ms Maddocks continued: ‘Did you put your hand between her legs at any point?’

He answered: ‘I just put my arm out like that [to block the complainant], that’s it.’ 

Prosecutor David Povall said: ‘There is no dispute that the Uber that arrived was a black Ford driven by Mr Qureshi.

‘She got into the back of the car and very quickly fell asleep.

‘It was some time later that she became aware there was somebody next to her kissing her neck and his hand was under her skirt.

‘She was confused. Her first thought was that person was her boyfriend and she responded by saying “What are you doing?”

Jurors took almost four hours to clear married father-of-one Qureshi, 35, at the Old Bailey

Jurors took almost four hours to clear married father-of-one Qureshi, 35, at the Old Bailey

‘When she heard the response in an Asian accent it took her some time to work out what was happening.’

Once the woman had got out of the car she realised it was parked close to her home and ran to the front door, the court heard

She then called police and gave a statement the next day.

When Qureshi was questioned he told officers that she alternated between abusing him and trying to climb into the front seat during the journey.

He claimed that when he arrived at the destination she wanted to hug him and refused to be taken inside.

‘He said she dropped her phone and he picked it up and sneezed. She called him a mother****** and she got very angry,’ said Mr Povall.

‘He said he had not got into the back seat and he did not sexually assault her.’ 

Jurors took three hours and 59 minutes to clear the married father-of-one, from Pakistan, after being given a majority direction by the judge, Mr Recorder Michael Wood QC.

Qureshi let out a huge sigh of relief as he stood with his arms folded across his chest.

The judge thanked the jury for the ‘obvious’ care they had given the case and told them: ‘Thank you very much again, have a good Christmas and a New Year.’ 


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