Thursday, October 22, 2015

Coseley woman's terror over taxi sex attack

Enya Emerson
Enya Emerson
Having taken ill during a night out with friends, Enya Emerson desperately wanted to get back to the comfort of her own home.
Like many people, she relied on a cab driver to transport her safely to her house in Coseley, but on this occasion almost a year ago she suffered the gross misfortune to get into in the taxi of Muhammad Zia.
Married Zia, aged 39, locked his victim in the cab and fondled and grabbed her, even attempting to block her path into her own home once she had got out of the taxi.
Not content with his shameless actions, Zia, of Paxton Road, Stourbridge, then lied his way through two court cases, subjecting his victim to an agonising year-long wait for justice.
Last week, she gained some respite when Zia was locked up for six months and placed on the Sex Offenders Register for seven years.
For Ms Emerson, aged 20, it heralded the chance to finally bring an end to a horrendous chapter of her life.
As the victim of a sexual assault she was entitled to lifelong anonymity, meaning that her name could not be publicised in connection with the case.
Yet she decided to take the step of waiving that right in a bid to urge other victims to report such incidents to the police.
"People don't think anything comes of it but I want to tell people it is worth going to the police," said Ms Emerson.
"I want to warn girls not get into the front of a taxi, particularly if you are alone."
Ms Emerson's ordeal started when she got into Zia's taxi outside Lloyds Bar in Stourbridge. She was told to sit in the front passenger seat and paid the £25 fare before they set off on the 10-mile journey to her home in Chainmakers Close.
"Within five minutes into the journey he took my hand and brought it up to his mouth to kiss," she said, recalling the incident that took place in the early hours of the morning on October 26, 2014.
"I pulled my hand back, but he did it again.
"He was telling me about himself and asked about me. We ended up at my cul-de-sac after about 20 minutes. I just wanted to leave but the door was locked.
"He said he wanted to come in with me. I told him it was late and I was tired and he offered to give me a massage."
Ms Emerson said she started panicking after he kept on insisting he wanted to come into her home.
She added: "He had his hand on my thigh. He was rubbing it in circles.
"He leaned in to kiss me and I turned my head away. I said I could take his number and text him tomorrow.
"He did eventually get out of the car and open the door for me, but he stood in my way and held onto my arm."
She said she pushed him away and ran into her home. Zia then drove away.
Ms Emerson said: "I was scared. I'm not a confrontational person."
The next day she told her mother what had happened and went to Dudley police station to give a statement.
Officers told Ms Emerson to call the taxi driver on the mobile phone number he had given her to set up a meeting.
She arranged for Zia to pick her up at the same spot as the previous day - but two police officers turned up instead and arrested him.
He was convicted of sexual assault at Dudley Magistrates Court in June, but Ms Emerson said she was forced to give her evidence for a second time after Zia appealed the verdict and there was a retrial at Wolverhampton Crown Court.
His appeal was thrown out, and last week he was jailed for six months.
"It was really difficult giving evidence in court and I had to do it a second time. He put me through court twice and lied right to the end."
Before passing sentence Judge Michael Challinor said: "She was trapped in the taxi because of the child locks. It was the early hours of the morning and to that extent she was vulnerable to your advances.
"This was deliberate touching of this young girl with a view to a sexual encounter. It was not penetrative but was nonetheless distressing.
“Taxis play an important role in keeping people, especially young women, safe at night. To that extent taxi drivers are trusted.
“If you breach that trust, you will go to prison as a deterrent and punishment to let others know as taxi drivers they must behave appropriately at all times, or they will be punished as you will be punished.”
Councillor Star Anderton, who represents the Coseley East ward where Ms Emerson lives, has hailed Ms Emerson's 'brave and selfless' actions.
She was herself a victim of sexual abuse and also chose to waive her right to anonymity following her ordeal.
"Anyone who is the victim of any sort of crime should report it, but when the crime is of a sexual nature there is an added dimension," Ms Anderton said.
"I know from personal experience the impact it can have: the life-changing anxiety that it can cause. It can be a lot to overcome.
"What this brave young lady has done deserves the highest praise and I applaud her for it. She has put herself before others so as to encourage other victims to come forward.
"Hopefully her story will encourage others to be vigilant when getting into taxis."

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