“Yellow Cab is keeping a sexual predator as an employee.
Let them know that we won’t accept this.” Facebook
“Hey Victoria people: Just FYI, one of the Yellow Cab Victoria drivers was just convicted of sexual assault of an unconscious passenger, and yet he wasn’t fired – he is potentially going to continue driving for them up until his jail time and afterward. That sends a pretty clear message that they value their business more than they do the safety of women/their passengers. If you think Yellow Cab should take more responsibility for protecting the safety of their passengers, please send them a message here”: http://www.yellowcabvictoria.com/contact-us.html #yellowcab#yellowcabvictoria
Louise Dickson / Times Colonist
DECEMBER 15, 2016 05:00 AM
A Yellow Cab driver who sexually assaulted an extremely intoxicated, unconscious young woman and kept her in his taxi for 90 minutes after she paid the fare has been sentenced to six months in jail followed by three years of probation.
In March, Victoria provincial court Judge Ernie Quantz convicted Baljinderjit Bhangu, a 30-year-old husband and father of two, of sexually assaulting his passenger in February 2014.
At the sentencing hearing, Quantz said jail was required because Bhangu committed a serious breach of trust with “a very vulnerable young woman who was entitled to his protection and his offering of a safe haven while taking her to her destination.”
During the four-day trial, court heard that the woman was out celebrating her 23rd birthday with family and friends and ended up in a nightclub in downtown Victoria. Before she left the club, she arranged to meet friends at a McDonald’s on Shelbourne Street.
Despite it being February, the woman was not wearing a coat. Quantz said she had forgotten it.
She flagged down a taxi and asked the driver to take her to the McDonald’s. However, because she was feeling sick, she got out of the cab.
At 1:10 a.m., she flagged down a second cab — driven by Bhangu — and asked him to take her home. She sat in the front seat.
Bhangu touched her on her thighs, over her dress. It made her uncomfortable, but Quantz did not find this to be a sexual assault.
At 1:50 a.m., the woman paid the $56 fare and Bhangu turned the meter off. She did not remember what happened until she was dropped off at home at 3:25 a.m.
The next day, the woman remembered that the taxi driver had touched her thighs. She also remembered that her dress was down when she got home and Bhangu suggested she pull it back up. She told a friend about this and the friend told her to go to Victoria police.
Photographs taken by the taxi’s interior security camera show Bhangu’s arm reaching for her breasts. Another photo shows Bhangu with his face pressed against her breasts or neck.
“Shortly after these incidents, the offender flipped down the passenger sun visor, blocking the security camera,” said Quantz.
“I am satisfied he did this knowing it would prevent any further photographs from being taken and that he did this to avoid detection. The offender eventually dropped her off at her house, approximately one hour after the camera was blocked.”
The details of the sexual assault will never be known, said Quantz.
“But the evidence established beyond a reasonable doubt that on at least one occasion, he violated the sexual integrity of the complainant by touching her breast area and on at least one occasion by kissing on her neck. He perpetrated these acts for his own sexual gratification.”
After his arrest, Bhangu was restricted from driving a taxi between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. He lost his permit from Victoria police that had allowed him to pick up fares in Victoria and Esquimalt, but could continue to drop off fares in those communities.
Bhangu was also required to have a functioning camera in his taxi. Once a week, video and still images and his trip logs were reviewed by Victoria police.
A sex-offender risk assessment concluded that Bhangu is at low risk to re-offend sexually, but should be treated for his “hostility towards women, lack of concern for others and impulsivity.”
The judge said he is concerned that Bhangu continued to deny he had done anything wrong.
Crown prosecutor Clare Jennings asked for a jail sentence of 12 to 18 months and to prevent Bhangu from driving a taxi. Defence lawyer Don McKay asked for a suspended or a conditional sentence. He asked that Bhangu be able to drive a taxi during the day.
During probation, Bhangu must complete sexual offence-prevention counselling and/or forensic assessment as directed by his probation officer.
He is prohibited from driving a taxi between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., and he must have a properly operating camera in his taxi and keep the images for six months. He was also ordered to give a sample of his DNA.
Yellow Cab manager Vicky Taylor said the taxi company has zero tolerance for “that kind of behaviour.”
“The board will get all the information then meet to discuss whether he’ll be able to drive a taxi during his probation,” she said.
McKay said he has filed an appeal of Bhangu’s conviction and sentence.
Bhangu will have a bail hearing on Friday.
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