An Uber driver has been sentenced to six years and six months in jail for the rape of a woman he had picked up as a passenger.
Moses Gengo-Ton Ravanes cried throughout his sentencing at the Christchurch District Court yesterday, Christchurch Court News reported.
Crown prosecutor Mitchell McClenaghan asked for a sentence which sent a message, saying that in New Zealand's drinking culture young people relied on Uber and taxis to get home.
The victim was entitled to a safe passage home, he said.
"She didn't receive that. She was raped."
Judge Paul Kellar agreed with the Crown's request for a deterrent sentence.
"Young people in particular are entitled to have an expectation of being safe when they are driven home by taxi drivers."
The victim did not appear in court but filed a victim impact statement.
Kellar said the rape had a significant psychological effect on her, Christchurch Court News reported.
"Her self-esteem and feelings of self-worth have suffered significantly as a result of this – quite wrongly. She is not to blame for this, in any way whatsoever," Kellar said.
Ravanes picked the girl up outside The Strip in central Christchurch in May 2018.
McClenaghan said the Uber driver was aware his passenger did not have a mobile phone on her because her friend had ordered the ride. He was also aware of her intoxicated state as she had stopped the car on the ride home to vomit.
He pulled over in a rural area, climbed into the back seat, and kissed her against her will before raping her.
Ravanes' defence lawyer Andrew McKenzie said his client continued to deny the rape and said the sex was consensual. He planned to appeal the conviction, Christchurch Court News reported.
Ravanes was previously a carpenter in his home country of the Philippines and had taken up Uber driving to supplement his income. Now he had been jailed, his family would have to return to the Philippines.