Ukranian taxi driver who sexually assaulted 'vulnerable' woman loses appeal

Ukranian taxi driver who sexually assaulted 'vulnerable' woman loses appeal

A taxi driver jailed for sexually assaulting a “vulnerable” woman who had been separated from her friends on a night out, has had an appeal against conviction dismissed.

Ukranian national Ivan Seredych (43), of Kyrie Court, Main Street, Clonee, Co Meath, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to a single count of sexually assaulting the 24-year-old woman in the capital on June 10, 2012.

He was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to three years imprisonment by Judge Catherine Murphy on December 21, 2015.

Seredych had an appeal against conviction dismissed today with the Court of Appeal holding that the trial judge acted within her discretion in refusing to give a corroboration warning.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice George Birmingham said the victim had been socialising in Dublin on the night in question but became separated from her friends in the early hours of the morning.

She always acknowledged that she had consumed alcohol at different locations – two glasses of champagne, a bottle-and-a-half of wine and a bottle of cider – but said “I wasn't too bad, I wasn't falling about the place”, the judge quoted her as saying.

Separated from her friends, she decided to walk to a fast food restaurant where she hoped she would meet them.

She was feeling “vulnerable” in her words, was visibly upset and was crying. At one stage she was shouting, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

On the North Quays a taxi pulled over and the driver, Seredych, told her to stop crying. She trusted him and got into the front passenger seat.

Very shortly into the journey, Seredych put his hand on her thigh and she remonstrated with him in colloquial Polish not knowing he was in fact Ukranian.

Seredych asked her if she had a boyfriend while all the time keeping his hand on her thigh. He proceeded to move his hand under her clothing and touched her vagina.

At one point, the taxi pulled over, she took out her phone and recorded his name and number.

She directed Seredych to drive to Raheny where she knew there was a garda station. On the way there, he exposed his penis and took her hand.

When they arrived, he did not request payment.

Seredych's home was searched where gardaí found his driver details which matched the details provided by the complainant.

Counsel for Seredych, Anthony Sammon SC, submitted that the trial judge ought to have given a corroboration warning to the jury given the victim's state of “apprehension”.

After being separated from her friends, Mr Sammon said the victim described being “distressed”, “blacking-out”, being in a state of “trance”, “screaming” and she had a history of panic attacks. “Fear feeds into imagination” Mr Sammon said adding that the defence's case was that the incident in the taxi never happened.

He said the trial judge ignored all factors related to her state of mind and only referred to the victim's intoxication when she ruled on the corroboration warning.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the court was unable to conclude that the decision not to give a corroboration warning was manifestly a wrong exercise.

He said the court was satisfied that the trial judge acted within her discretion.

Accordingly, Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, dismissed the appeal.