July 2023

Taxi driver sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl

The prison sentence of a taxi driver who was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl will not be increased.

A request was made to a government legal advisor to consider appealing the sentence Mahdi Ferhane received at Bournemouth Crown Court last month.

Solicitor General Michael Tomlinson was said to be “shocked and appalled” by the case.

However, the MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole decided against making a referral to the Court of Appeal through the unduly lenient sentence scheme.

Ferhane, a father of two, was jailed for 28 months by Judge William Mousley KC after he was found unanimously guilty of sexual assault.

The 38-year-old offender was found not guilty of attempted rape following a crown court trial in April and May.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office said: “The Solicitor General was shocked and appalled by this case.

“After careful consideration, the Solicitor General has concluded that this case cannot properly be referred to the Court of Appeal.

“A referral under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme to the Court of Appeal can only be made if a sentence is not just lenient but unduly so, such that the sentencing judge made a gross error or imposed a sentence outside the range of sentences reasonably available in the circumstances of the offence.

“The threshold is a high one, and the test was not met in this case.”

As reported, Ferhane “took advantage” of the “vulnerable” girl, who he had picked up alone in Bournemouth town centre.

He came into contact with the complainant when he pulled up alongside her when she was sat on a bench in Old Christchurch Road in the early hours of May 29 last year.

After a short conversation, the teenager got into the front seat of his car and asked to be driven to her home, but the defendant went to a clifftop car park and insisted that she drive his vehicle.

The defendant then took the complainant to an address he owned in St Peter’s Road.

Inside the flat he removed her dress, massaged her shoulder, pushed her face down onto a mattress and touched her with his penis.

Ferhane drove the teen home and charged her £12 for the trip as a taxi passenger.

It came to light after the trial that Ferhane previously had a licence revoked by Bournemouth Borough Council.

The local authority removed his driver’s licence in late 2017.

He then applied for a licence with New Forest District Council in December 2021 and was granted permission to operate as a private hire driver carrying out pre-booked trips only.

A spokesperson for NFDC said Ferhane did not disclose that he previously held a licence in Bournemouth or that it had been revoked.