A taxi driver, his uncle and nephew have been found guilty of raping a drunken school teacher after she was abducted in his cab.
The unconscious woman had passed out after drinking at a birthday celebration before she came round to find one of her abusers having sex with her.
At Bradford Crown Court Wakar Akhtar, 21, was sentenced to 17 years for rape in his absence after fleeing to Europe once he had given evidence. His co-defendents, private hire driver Tamseel Virk, 42; Azad Raja, 38, and Najeem Ul-Saeed, 31, all of Bradford, were also sentenced to 17 years for conspiracy to rape between May 25 and 26 last year.
Prosecutor Andrew Kershaw told the jury that Virk picked up the woman from a street in Leeds in breach of his licence, shortly before midnight.
Mr Kershaw suggested the fare was not reported to Virk’s controller because he had identified a vulnerable woman who could be sexually exploited.
Mr Kershaw said Virk ‘delivered’ her to his uncle, Akhtar and nephew Raja, getting her to commit a sex act on him on the way.
The jury heard she was dropped off near their home and raped in turn on a bench in Great Horton Park, Bradford, while she was unconscious.
The jury was told the victim woke up while Raja was having sex with her. Akhtar is alleged to have told her he had already had sex with her.
Ul-Saeed, the lawyer added, then turned up ‘too late physically to join in the rape that he had set up.’
In December Akhtar’s father, Mohammed Akhtar Raja, 52, and his cousin, 40-year-old Raja Sarwar, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by assisting Akhtar to leave the UK during his trial for the purpose of impeding his prosecution. They have been warned they face a prison sentence.
After driving to Dover, hours after giving evidence at his trial, Wakar Akhtar caught a ferry to Calais. He was tracked down to a hospital in Italy. Police are poised to bring him back to the UK.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Snow, of Protective Services (Homicide and Major Enquiry Team), said: “I would like to praise the efforts of the National Crime Agency, Interpol and the Italian authorities, who carried out significant work with ourselves to locate Akhtar, who was found to be staying with friends in the Brescia region.
“We hope the extradition proceedings will be completed quickly, so he can be brought back to the UK and face sentence for the despicable crime he was found guilty of.”