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Monday, May 04, 2015

News ~ Rape victim waives her right to anonymity to prevent other women from taking unlicensed cabs

Rape victim waives her right to anonymity to 
prevent other women from taking unlicensed cabs

Mail Online

Rape victim who was attacked by a bogus taxi driver waives her right to anonymity in the hope that her ordeal will prevent other women from taking unlicensed cabs

• Sarah Thompson was 19 when she was raped by Shakeel Ahmed
• He was posing as a cab driver and attacked her on a quiet road
• Mr Ahmed was captured and jailed for five years
• Miss Thompson came forward after fellow rape victim Ceri Lindon committed suicide following her attack  

PUBLISHED: 18:51 GMT, 3 May 2015 | UPDATED: 18:55 GMT, 3 May 2015

"I want to get the message across that it's just not worth getting into an unmarked taxi for the sake of a night out. It changed my life forever"

A rape victim has waived her right to anonymity in a bid to warn other women about the perils of getting into an unlicensed taxi.

Sarah Thompson, 21, from Irthlingborough, Northants, has opened up about her ordeal at the hands of Shakeel Ahmed, a man she presumed to be an official taxi driver and urges other women to always take care when travelling late at night.

The attack took place two years ago, but in an interview with The Sun, she said: 'I have panic attacks and struggle with physical contact ever since the attack.'

Miss Thompson, who was raped in March 2013, felt compelled to make her story public after the tragic death of Ceri Linden, a 20-year-old student who killed herself after she was kidnapped and raped by a fake cabbie.

The carer said: 'I want to get the message across that it's just not worth getting into an unmarked taxi for the sake of a night out. It changed my life forever.'

Miss Thompson, who was 19 at the time, had been celebrating a friend's 21st birthday in Birmingham when she decided to return to her hotel at 2.30am.

She headed to the taxi rank and jumped into Shakeel Ahmed's car, not knowing he wasn't a taxi driver at all.

She recalled: 'I don't know the city [of Birmingham] very well so didn't realise he was driving me in the opposite direction to my hotel.

'I had no idea anything was wrong until he pulled over on the side of a quiet road and I froze with fear. 

'I was in the passenger seat and all of a sudden he leant over and started kissing me aggressively. 

'I tried to back away but he was much stronger than me and I couldn't get away. I was terrified that if I fought back any more he'd kill me.

'I closed my eyes to try and block it out, but as he climbed over his heavy weight pinned me into the seat. '

Miss Thompson was so scared at this point that she passed out. 

'When I came round he was still on top of me. I felt sick.' 

The traumatised teenager, who was then only 19, managed to escape after Mr Ahmed climbed off her, and raced through the streets crying hysterically.

She was rescued by a licensed taxi driver, transporting two other women home. Terrified that he was another predator, Miss Thompson initially carried on running as the vehicle slowed down next to her. 

However, the car's driver recognising her distress sent his female passengers to talk to her. 

They called the police and she was taken into a local police station, where she was interviewed, examined and swabbed.

'I felt sore and tender, I had no idea what he'd done to me,' she recalled. 

She called in sick to work that Monday was still in shock. She said: 'It all felt surreal. I just wanted the nightmare to be over and for my life to return to what it was before. I was constantly on edge and suffered anxiety.

'Initially I was angry at myself for not checking the taxi was registered, but then I realised I didn't deserve what happened.' 

A month after the attack, Mr Ahmed was captured and arrested after police tracked his movements on the night in question on CCTV, then matched his DNA to Miss Thompson's clothes. 

'I was relieved that he'd been caught, but it didn't help with my anxiety. I was advised to attend a sexual health clinic to take a pregnancy test, which came back negative. 

'But when they told me he was a drug user I was beside myself with worry that I'd be HIV positive.'

It took three months for Miss Thompson to get the all-clear. 

Mr Ahmed, then 31, was later found guilty of sexual assault by penetration after an eight-day trial at Birmingham crown caught, nine months after the attack. 

Miss Thompson gave evidence from behind a screen. 

'It was awful having to relive it,' she said. 'Out of all the "taxis" to get into that night, I can't believe I was unlucky enough to pick that one.'

She added: 'I'd always wondered why I had sat in the passenger's seat that night but police believe he locked the back doors so I had no choice.'

Her life has been changed irrevocably, and she doesn't think her life will ever return to normal. The carefree young woman is gone.

She said: 'I haven't been drunk since. Now, I'm always the designated driver on nights out.'

Miss Thompson also urges women to book taxis in advance.

'You never really think that something like this is going to happen to you, but it has to me, and does to hundreds of others.

'I don't want anyone to have to go through what I did. I'm speaking out to warn others: never get into an unlicensed cab.' 

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