Cabbie who attacked teen has sentence cut

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A cabbie who sexually assaulted a young passenger has had his sentence cut on appeal.

Zulfikar Ahmed Nawaz, 59, was jailed for five years and given a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) at Preston Crown Court in November 2011, after he was convicted of a sexual assault in Chorley.

The cab driver - who has a previous conviction for the manslaughter of his own father in 1977 - picked up his 18-year-old victim after the lad’s Christmas do with colleagues in December 2010.

He drove the young man towards his rural Lancashire home but then failed to stop, taking him to a secluded track near Chorley and climbing out of the driving seat.

Nawaz, of Balshaw Road, Leyland, pinned the teenager down but the victim fought back and managed to flee the car, escaping via a field.

Nawaz denied the offence but was convicted by a jury, with the sentencing judge branding his crime “extremely serious”, worsened by the breach of the trust placed in him as a taxi driver.

However, three senior judges at London’s Appeal Court have now upheld a sentence challenge by Nawaz, quashing the extended licence period and slashing his jail term to three years. He has been released from jail but is subject remains to the SOPO and cannot drive a cab.

Nawaz’s barrister, Shila Whitehead, argued that the judge wrongly ruled him dangerous and imposed a ‘manifestly excessive’ sentence after mistakenly adopting the starting point for an attempted rape. Judge Neil Ford, sitting with Lady Justice Macur and Mr Justice Phillips, agreed that the jail term was too long.

He said: “Nawaz’s risk (to the public) is accommodated by the sexual offences prevention order. The extended sentence is accordingly quashed and a sentence of three years’ imprisonment is imposed.

“To that extent, this appeal is allowed.”