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Taxi driver in Galway jailed for sexual assault on passenger


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Taxi driver in Galway jailed for sexual assault on passenger Taxi driver in Galway jailed for sexual assault on passenger

From the Galway City Tribune – A taxi driver who sexually assaulted a sleeping passenger has received an 18-month prison sentence.

The female victim woke up in the back of the taxi to 45-year-old Francis Oseghale (45) on top of her, Galway Circuit Criminal Court heard.

In her victim impact statement, the woman said: “It was truly the most terrifying ordeal I have ever gone through.”

Oseghale, with an address at Cartur Mór, Knocknacarra, pleaded guilty to sexual assault in the city on July 15, 2018.

The court heard Oseghale no longer drives a taxi and his licence was taken away shortly after the incident.

Judge Brian O’Callaghan said the granting of a public licence brings with it a “very strong responsibility and sense of duty”.

The judge said thankfully, the majority of taxi drivers “go beyond” that duty to protect the interests of the public whether they are customers or not.

“This man clearly broke all the rules and tore up the rule book into shreds insofar as it applies to how taxi drivers should behave towards their patrons.

“This despicable matter in which he took advantage of this young lady in his taxi, it is very troubling to put it mildly,” he added.

In evidence, Garda Colm Harlowe told prosecuting counsel Geri Silke BL, that Oseghale picked up the victim and other passengers on Bridge Street on the night of July 15, 2018.

The court heard the journey to the victim’s then home in Westside would normally take 15 minutes, but took one hour and five minutes after the other passengers were dropped off first.

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Garda Harlowe said the woman fell asleep in the back of the taxi and woke up near her home with the driver on top of her and his hand on her breast.

The woman pretended to be asleep in the hope the assault would stop.

The court heard the woman reported the incident to her sister and was examined at University Hospital Galway.

Garda Harlowe said DNA evidence and CCTV from Bridge Street enabled gardaí to identify Oseghale, who had no previous convictions.

In her victim impact statement, the woman said she will never forget the fear of waking up and finding a stranger on top of her.

“I feel absolutely disgusted in my own skin,” she added.

She said she was diagnosed with PTSD and prescribed anti-depressants and has moved away from Galway. She said everyone should be entitled to go on a night out and be brought home safely.

“I was sexually assaulted by someone I trusted to bring me home safely,” she added.

Defence barrister Bernard Madden SC told the court his client had written a letter of apology to the woman.

Mr Madden said his client is originally of Nigerian extraction and had a good record of employment.

Counsel said his client initially had difficulty in accepting he had committed an offence, but now accepted responsibility.

A risk assessment put Oseghale at a low risk for sexual reconviction and was suitable in the long term for probation supervision.

Mr Madden said his client is no longer living with his wife as a result of “this particular escapade” and faces the prospect of losing his current accommodation.

Counsel asked the court to note his client’s guilty plea and previous good record.

Judge O’Callaghan said the accused “committed a most serious and egregious offence” and “the facts speak for themselves”.

He said the court noted from the psychologist’s report that there was an element of “victim blaming” by the accused.

However, the judge noted that the accused later accepted that it was all his doing.

He said the aggravating factors in the case included the accused’s breach of duty towards a person who was vulnerable at the time and the impact of the assault.

He told the accused a custodial sentence was “unavoidable” and imposed a three-year prison term, with the final 18 months suspended.

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