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Hero cabbie praised after helping attack victim

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Hero cabbie praised after helping attack victim

Post by Aftab on Wed 14 Jan 2009 - 17:13

Hero cabbie praised after helping attack victim
Jan 10 2009 Evening Gazette

A GOOD Samaritan taxi driver praised for rescuing a young woman from a sex attacker said today: “If I can help someone, I will.”

Naveed Akram slowed down his cab and scared off the distraught teenager’s assailant during a sexual assault in Middlesbrough.

Mr Akram then made sure the 18-year-old victim got home safely after the disturbing assault and robbery by attacker Mark Waterfield.

Waterfield was jailed for five years at Teesside Crown Court yesterday.

He rode up to the girl on a mountain bike as she walked home to Thornaby from the Arena nightclub.

The judge said Waterfield, 39, must have watched his vulnerable victim after asking her if she was alone.

The court heard he took her bag and shoes, grabbed her, turned her face to face with him and made sexual remarks to her.

He held her tight and started touching her under her clothing, said prosecutor Paul Newcombe.

But then he was frightened away by Mr Akram in the early hours of May 11 last year. He broke off his attack and fled.

Mr Akram, 29, told the Gazette: “At the end of the day if I can help someone, I’ll help. Why turn a blind eye?”

He said: “It could happen to anyone.”

The self-employed hackney carriage driver was driving home to Middlesbrough and was joining the A66 from the Cannon Park slip road.

He said: “I saw a young girl struggling and I saw a guy jump on a bike and ride off.

“I slowed down to see what was going on. I knew something wasn’t right. I slammed my brakes.

“He jumped on the bike and he was just gone. He realised someone’s pulled over. I must have scared him off.

“I got out and she was crying. She was in quite a state. She couldn’t speak. She was shaking and shivering.

“I took her to her doorstep. She went to pay me and I said I didn’t want the money.”

The dad-of-three, a taxi driver for 11 years, said the incident left him shaken: “I couldn’t get to sleep all night.

“At the time I didn’t think anything of it. But if that guy had something he could have approached me. He might have had a weapon.”

Judge Tony Briggs praised Mr Akram, saying: “He acted in a very public spirited way, rescuing a young lady who was in obvious distress by the side of the street and taking her home.”

He ordered that Naveed receive a 250 reward from public funds.

He also praised the girl, now 19, who cannot be named for legal reasons, saying she was an impressive witness who dealt with her ordeal with “very considerable courage and presence of mind”.

Waterfield, of Kildare Street, Middlesbrough, denied the robbery and sexual assault but was convicted by a jury after a trial last month.

The judge told him: “It was a determined, premeditated and thoroughly nasty piece of behaviour which terrified and traumatised this unfortunate young lady, and was intended by you to do so. I have no doubt of that at all.

“Unfortunately for you, she had a number of qualities - she was brave, she was resourceful and she was very observant.

“You rendered her in a state of very considerable distress and upset. The sentence must reflect that.

“I am satisfied that it came to an end only because you were frightened off by the sound of an approaching car.”

Waterfield, who had a previous conviction for robbery in 1995, was arrested from an e-fit picture and picked out at an identity procedure.

In his trial he tried to stage an alibi, added Mr Newcombe.

Brian Russell, defending, said Waterfield continued to deny the offences and was previously a responsible dad-of-two.

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