Fake Uber driver admits to raping woman

·3-min read

A Melbourne man has admitted raping one "remarkably vulnerable" woman and sexually assaulting another after pretending to be a ride-share driver.

Sharjeel Mirza, 39, pulled up his car, adorned with an Uber sticker, in front of two different drunk women, then aged 19 and 26, in March and July 2019.

He had previously worked as an Uber driver but was not registered at the time of either offence.

Mirza on Thursday faced the Victorian County Court, where he pleaded guilty to digitally raping the 19-year-old and forcing her to touch his penis, as well as sexually assaulting the 26-year-old woman.

Prosecutor Shivani Pillai said Mirza "preyed" on the two women after he pretended to be an Uber driver and also told the younger one he was a student paramedic.

The Victorian County Court.
The driver appeared in the Victorian County Court on Thursday. Source: AAP/File

"He has shown very concerning behaviour in terms of targeting young women ... and holding himself out as someone offering care and assistance," Ms Pillai said.

Mirza picked up the teenager and her boyfriend after she was vomiting in the street outside a CBD nightclub.

The father-of-two offered them water and tissues, as well as a lift home, but the 19-year-old declined, telling him she would be sick in his car.

The boyfriend got out of the car after Mirza agreed to exchange phone numbers with him.

Mirza then forced the teenager, seated in the front, to touch his erect penis before he raped her.

She yelled at him to let her out, but the doors were locked.

Mirza took her home and told the woman's mother that her daughter was lying face down on the road outside.

In a statement to the court, the teenager said she blamed herself, suffered a level of anxiety that put a strain on her relationship and made it difficult to perform everyday tasks or focus at work.

"I felt an extreme amount of disgust and dismay that I wasn't more vigilant and aware," she said.

"There was a huge dark cloud over me."

Judge Amanda Chambers told the woman she was not responsible for what happened.

"I understand the feelings you've expressed, but there's no responsibility or shame you should feel," Judge Chambers said.

Logo for car-sharing company Uber on the passenger side windshield of a vehicle in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood of San Francisco, California, October 13, 2017. SoMa is known for having one of the highest concentrations of technology companies and startups of any region worldwide. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Sipa USA)
Sharjeel Mirza had previously worked as an Uber driver but was not registered at the time of either offence. Source: AAP/FILE

The court also heard that in July 2019 Mirza pulled up next to the 26-year-old woman, who had been drinking at a 30th birthday party, as she was slumped on the street in Fitzroy.

The woman, who believed Mirza was an Uber driver, got into the front passenger seat and fell asleep before waking up to him touching her while driving the car.

She pushed his hand away and said she needed to vomit in order to get out of the car. But Mirza chased her down and said it wasn't safe for her outside, before driving her home.

The 39-year-old apologised to both women in a letter to the court.

"I came to comprehend the gravity of pain and grief I caused to them while in custody," Mirza wrote.

"I can only hope their pain and trauma diminishes with time."

Judge Chambers later said evidence that Mirza was a charitable and generous man conflicted with his abuse of the two "remarkably vulnerable" young women.

He will be sentenced on August 20.

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