Woman was groped by taxi driver, court told

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A WOMAN has told a court she was sexually assaulted by a taxi driver during a journey home from a night out.

The 18-year-old claims she was “groped” by cabbie Anthony Wales as he took her to Houghton after she had been to a birthday party at a club in Sunderland city centre.

The alleged victim, who cannot be named, said the 47-year-old pounced after pulling his car up to the kerbside a short distance from her house.

Self employed Wales, of Knightsbridge, Sunderland, denies sexual assault and is being tried by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court.

The woman told jurors Wales asked her personal questions during the 20-minute journey before asking her if she wanted to go somewhere private with him, to which she said no.

She told the court she started feeling a bit scared as it was the first time she had been in a taxi alone.

The woman accepted during cross examination that she had not fled from the stationary car when Wales allegedly stopped and sexually assaulted her in September 2009.

But she added: “When you are in that situation you freeze. When you are that scared, you don’t think.”

Wales told the jury he had pulled over a short distance from the woman’s house, but said it was because she asked him to.

He told jurors it was when he stopped the woman told him she did not have enough money to pay the £13 fare.

Wales said: “She said she didn’t have enough money, she asked me if I could stay there and she would go and get the money.”

Wales said he agreed to go back the next day to pick up his money but decided against it after he received a threatening call from the alleged victim’s stepfather, accusing him of the offence.

He denies one charge of sexual assault.

The trial was continuing today.