Taxi grope complaint 'my word against his'

By Andrew Koubaridis

File photo / Getty Images
File photo / Getty Images

A young woman who claims she was indecently assaulted by a taxi driver says the incident has come down to her word against his because security footage taken inside the cab is missing.

The 23-year-old says she was assaulted while she was driven home from a central Auckland bar and thought it would have been captured on film. When police requested the camera chip from inside the taxi they found the footage was "unavailable" despite repeated attempts to access it. The company denies this - but will not say why it did not provide the camera chip to police.

Officers could not apply for a search warrant in this case without a specific address to search, and the driver denied the allegations when he was interviewed.

It's understood much of the difficulty with the case revolves around the identity of the driver. The company says the man the woman named to police was not working on the night of the alleged incident.

The incident is the latest in a series of problems to plague the taxi industry since compulsory security cameras were introduced two years ago, including revelations last month that hundreds of cameras could be faulty and did not comply with requirements.

The allegation of indecent assault was made in March when the woman caught a taxi about 4am from outside a bar on Karangahape Rd to to take her home to Pt Chevalier.

She says the driver groped her while he was driving and leaned over and kissed her when they pulled up outside her home.

"The whole way he felt me up and started kissing me and everything - it was pretty bad. It wasn't rape or anything but it was still a breach of personal trust as he was meant to be getting me home."

She said throughout the trip he asked if she wanted to go and get another drink, and she told him she did not. "I paid for the taxi and ran up my driveway and came crying to mum. I thought I better write down everything I could remember."

Later that day she laid a complaint with the police.

"I thought they would be able to look at camera footage but apparently the company were meant to [take the camera chip out of the car] and give it to police ..."

After the footage was lost it became "my word against his".

"Basically there is no evidence ... his whole defence was his licence wasn't valid for when it happened so clearly he wasn't on the road - so that's it really, case closed, nothing can be done."

A police spokeswoman told the Herald attempts were made to obtain the camera chip from the taxi to secure footage but "as it transpired the footage was unavailable".

A statement was taken regarding the unavailable evidence and a senior detective is reviewing the file to decide on further action.

The taxi company director said the man identified by the woman wasn't working for him at the time, although he is now. He would not comment on who was driving his taxi that evening. The director said the police version of events was incorrect, telling the Herald footage was available.

He conceded the company did not hand over the camera chip but insisted there was no proof any of his staff had acted inappropriately.

EYE ON WHAT GOES ON

• Footage from taxi security cameras is stored within the recording device in the vehicle.

• An authorised person from each company is able to get the recorded information but it is not available to the driver.

• Cameras were made compulsory in taxis two years ago after a number of violent attacks on drivers.

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- NZ Herald

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