A Perth taxi driver who sexually assaulted a sleeping female passenger and claimed he had "voices" in his head was today jailed for three years.

Sumudu Rangana Bamunu Arachchige, 28, faced the Perth District Court this morning where he pleaded guilty to two charges of unlawful and indecent assault and one charge of sexual penetration without consent.

Jailing Arachchige today, District Court judge Philip McCann said the public needed to know there were strong deterrents for taxi drivers who attempted to offend against "vulnerable" passengers.

He said the offences had involved "brazen sexual assaults" and he found it difficult to imagine how any taxi driver could justify such offences.

Judge McCann found Arachchige, a Sri Lankan student who was driving taxis as a part time job, lacked insight and remorse into his offending.

He said the offences were not spur of the moment acts, finding they were calculated and said the woman's lack of consent must have been obvious.

State Prosecutor Craig Astill told the court the offences occurred after Arachchige picked up the 34-year-old woman from a pub on Scarborough Beach Road, Mt Hawthorn, at 10.30pm on July 7.

The woman, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, fell asleep but was woken three times to find Arachchige touching her and digitally penetrating her.

Mr Astill told the court, the woman, who had been socialising and drinking all day, was drunk and her level of intoxication was an aggravating factor in Arachchige's offending.

Defence lawyer John Hawkins said Arachchige, who is married, came from a fairly affluent Sri Lankan family and suffered from psychological and psychiatric issues after he was sexually abused as a child.

He said as a consequence, Arachchige suffered from episodes of amnesia, depression and started hearing voices.

Mr Hawkins said his client came to Australia five years ago to study a business diploma and his student visa would be cancelled once he was released from prison.

Judge McCann said the offences involved a "breach of trust" and taxi drivers often attracted vulnerable people who were incapable of driving.

He found Arachchige had shown little remorse and feigned his pyschological and psychiatric symptoms and that the "voices" in his head were in fact "internal dialogues".

Arachchige's three year jail term was backdated to July and he will be eligible for release on parole in January 2014.

The West Australian

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