A man who pretended to be a taxi driver has been jailed for four years for sexually assaulting a girl in Hemel Hempstead.
Mashain Pitchei, 45, of Rosebery Way, Tring, was sentenced at St Albans Crown Court after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing.
The attack happened in the early hours of Sunday, October 21. Pitchei was parked in Marlowes when he offered a lift to a 20-year-old girl, who had been on a night out with friends. Believing it was a licensed taxi, she got in the vehicle and he drove off.
Pitchei then pulled over in Piccotts End Road where he sexually assaulted her.
The victim ran from the silver Ford Focus and flagged down a passing taxi who called police. Pitchei was arrested the same night.
He has been jailed for four years and will spend a further five years on licence and placesd on the sex offenders register.
Det Insp Justine Jenkins from the Dacorum local crime unit said: “We strongly believe Pitchei was deliberately preying on vulnerable women, using the guise of a licensed taxi. He presented a real danger.
“While there are a number of safeguards we put in place in the town to keep people safe, along with Dacorum Borough Council, this highlights the dangers of unlicensed taxis.
“As a constabulary we run regular campaigns highlighting the importance of taking care of yourself and your friends on a night out and I would like to reinforce this message.
“If you go out with a group of friends make sure you go home with them, too. Plan how you will get home before you go out and take the number of a reputable taxi company with you.
“I’d also reassure people that this type of incident doesn’t happen very often, and earlier this year we welcomed the introduction of the street wardens to the town. They are on hand in the town during weekend nights to provide help to anyone who may be vulnerable and need assistance.”