herald

Saturday 25 November 2017

Taxi man is accused of grope assault

A taxi driver has been accused of sexually assaulting a passenger while taking her home from a night out in the Dublin city centre.

Mourad Benkouider (38) allegedly touched the young woman "inappropriately" on the chest during the taxi journey to her home in a middle-class northside suburb.

Benkouider, of Hollywell, Upper Kilmacud Road, Dundrum, has denied sexually assaulting the woman in the incident nearly two years ago.

The case was halted in the middle of a hearing earlier this month after a judge insisted the prosecution contact a key garda witness over an apparent conflict in the evidence.

It has now been adjourned again at Dublin District Court until the trial judge who has heard the evidence so far is available.

The court heard previously that the woman, in her 20s, had been out with work colleagues on May 10, 2008, starting in Solas, on Camden Street.

She said she had four drinks over that time and was not drunk when she hailed the defendant's taxi at Harcourt Street. As they talked, she said, he asked her to get into the front passenger seat because he could not hear her.

When she did so, he started asking her more personal questions, including whether she had a boyfriend, she said.

The alleged victim said Benkouider had introduced himself as "Paulo from Jamaica". She alleged he touched her hand twice, drawing it toward him the second time. She said he then touched her shoulder.

"He touched my chest and he said 'that feels nice'," the woman told the court.

Chris Horrigan, defending, has said Benkouider would deny this version of events and that he touched the woman in any way. He would say the conversation was "general chit-chat" and the alleged sexual assault "just didn't happen".

aphelan@herald.ie

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