‘Impotent’ taxi driver who raped woman after picking her up outside club is jailed
The court heard Michael Harte would be less likely to commit similar crimes in the future because he now suffered from erectile dysfunction.
An impotent taxi driver who raped a vulnerable young woman after picking her up outside a popular nightclub has been handed a 10-year sentence.
Michael Harte (58) preyed on his drunk victim outside a nightclub in Belfast city centre before taking her to a quiet nearby road and raping her.
The evil taxi driver, of Black Mountain Walk, west Belfast, tried to hide his number plate and lied to the victim about the firm he worked for in an attempt to evade justice but was jailed for the attack at Dungannon Crown Court earlier this month.
Judge Richard Greene KC branded him a liar who had deliberately gone looking for an intoxicated young woman to victimise.
“It would have been obvious to you that she was very vulnerable and you formed the intent to rape her shortly thereafter,’’ he said.
“She was at your mercy and you carefully planned where and how you were going to attack her, you parked up in a back street off the main road and committed this appalling sexual assault on her.
“I consider this a carefully planned sexual assault and it is clear the impact on the victim has been profound.”
The court heard how the victim returned home from a night out in October 2016 in “quite a distressed state” with friends immediately sensing something was wrong.
She told her friends she had got into a taxi and was in it for a “long period of time” and thought something had happened but was “too drunk” to remember.
The victim later said in her police interview she remembered “being touched and felt someone on top of her”, adding: “I do feel like I’ve had sex.”
Harte denied raping her and insisted he had “reluctantly” given the victim a lift home, but this was rejected by the jury.
Lawyers for Harte told the court in mitigation their client is “unwell” and suffers from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, back pain, type 2 diabetes and asthma as well as erectile dysfunction.
They also sought to play down his offending by insisting his erectile dysfunction would make him less likely to commit similar crimes in the future.
Referring to the victim’s personal statement, the judge said the victim may never recover from her ordeal and ordered Harte to spend five years behind bars followed by five on licence.
“She describes being consumed by her assault, which is a powerful indicator of the impact of your offending,” he said.
“You continue to deny your guilt and therefore lack remorse, you thought you could sexually assault her and she would not be able to recollect the events and hold you to account for your crime.
“It is obvious she will have significant difficulty getting over what you did to her and in reality she will never do.”
As well as his 10-year sentence, Harte was ordered to sign the sex offenders register for life and was given a sexual offences prevention order for 10 years.
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