Cab driver who raped passenger gets 4 years, 9 months
Published Thursday, August 26, 2010 5:51PM PDT Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 11:32PM PDT
A Vancouver taxi driver who raped a passenger and then stole her ATM card has been sentenced to four years and nine months in prison.
Former Yellow Cab driver Baljit Singh Aulakh, 46, was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court last month on one charge of sexual assault and two of theft for the October 2007 attack.
The emergency-room doctor who examined the 19-year-old victim after the rape testified that the tear she found in the woman's vagina was the biggest she'd ever seen.
The victim -- called K.R. in court documents -- had been drinking heavily with friends at the Roxy in downtown Vancouver on the night of the rape. Her friends put her into a cab after she vomited inside the nightclub.
At some point during the drive back to Burnaby, Aulakh pulled the cab over in a secluded area and covered the in-car camera with the passenger-side sun visor.
K.R. said that she was unable to yell or fight back as she was raped. Because of her extreme intoxication, it wasn't until the next day that she remembered what had happened to her.
When Aulakh finally dropped her off at her friend's building, she accidentally gave him her ATM card instead of a credit card to pay the fare. He said he needed her PIN to process the transaction, but did not return the card.
Aulakh admitted in court to making two withdrawals worth a total of $960 plus fees from K.R.'s account shortly after taking the card.
However, he maintained his innocence in the rape throughout the trial, arguing that someone else could have raped K.R. while the cab was stopped.
In his sentencing decision, Judge William Ehrcke described the rape as "shameful and cowardly," and said that Aulakh violated the trust placed in him by passengers.
"When a passenger enters a taxi cab, he or she is entitled to assume that they are entering a place of relative safety," Ehrcke wrote.
"The accused in this case took advantage of the extreme vulnerability of an intoxicated 19-year-old. He sexually assaulted a defenceless young woman less than half his age in a forceful and degrading fashion."
The judge decided on a four-year jail sentence for the rape, and another nine months for the theft, writing that Aulakh's "selfish and callous indifference to the complainant is compounded by his theft of her debit card and money from her bank account."
Aulakh lives in Surrey and has been a Canadian citizen since 1983.
‘A whole company is insulted by this man'
Yellow Cab's general manager, Carolyn Bauer, told ctvbc.ca that Aulakh was dismissed from the company as soon as the allegations against him came out.
"We just wanted him out," Bauer said. "We're sick over this.... Women are supposed to feel very safe in taxis."
She said that the other drivers hung their heads in shame when the news of the rape broke.
"A whole company is insulted by this man. It's just disgusting," Bauer said. "There just are no words to describe this guy. There are none."
She added that the company responds to any complaints against drivers immediately.
"I'm not going to say we're perfect, but 99 per cent of the drivers out there are just grandfathers, dads, people trying to make a living."