Uber driver denies raping passenger


An Uber driver allegedly raped a vulnerable young woman three times as he drove her home, stopping at dark isolated streets to carry out the attacks, a court has been told.

Sakaria Taufao, 50, faced trial in Brisbane District Court on Tuesday where he pleaded not guilty to three counts of rape alleged to have occurred in northwest Brisbane in 2017.

The court was told the 23-year-old woman had been out with friends in Fortitude Valley when she ordered an Uber to take her back to her family home in The Gap about 2.30am on July 6.

Crown prosecutor Dejana Kovac said the young woman did not realise Mr Taufao was not the driver she had ordered when she got in his car outside the nightclub.

Judge Michael Byrne QC is presiding over the four-day trial. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Gosling
Judge Michael Byrne QC is presiding over the four-day trial. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Gosling

Mr Taufao allegedly did not record the journey and the young woman became frightened when he missed a left turn to her house and kept driving, the court heard.

"Naturally she started getting scared and asked him to go back again and again," Ms Kovac said.

"He ignored her requests and continued driving up the mountain. Without any discussion he drove to a dark isolated location and pulled the car into a driveway near a construction site.

Ms Kovac said he then digitally raped the vulnerable young woman "who had no way of escaping, no way."

When he began driving again, Ms Kovac said the woman tried to phone a friend but only managed to say "please" before Mr Taufao allegedly grabbed the phone and smashed it into the driver's door.

Ms Kovac said he then allegedly continued the sexual assault as he was driving, despite her repeated pleas for him to take her home.

The court heard Mr Taufao then drove her to another isolated place surrounded by bushland and assaulted her once more before "the nightmare eventually came to an end" and he dropped her home.

"He didn't make her pay for the journey. She asked for her phone back, he refused to give it to her," Ms Kovac said.

The court heard the young woman ran into her house and was "crying and shaking" when she woke her father to tell him what had happened.

Her father called the police and Mr Taufao was arrested the next day.

Defence barrister Dominic Nguyen did not make an opening statement but the court heard Mr Taufao will allege that he had picked her up because he had "wanted to help" and that she had forced herself on him.

A number of witnesses are expected to give evidence during the four-day trial including a representative from Uber and DNA evidence and CCTV footage will also be shown to the jury.

The trial continues before Judge Michael Byrne QC.

Originally published as Uber driver denies raping passenger