Taxi grab | 

Pervert taxi driver back behind wheel just two days after sex assault conviction

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard this week how Kudia kissed the female passenger without her consent as she was collecting her bag from his car.
Kusika Kudia wrapped his arms around his victim.

Kusika Kudia wrapped his arms around his victim.

Patrick O'Connell

A taxi driver convicted of ­sexually assaulting a female passenger was back behind the wheel of his vehicle this week - just two days after his conviction.

Our pictures show 55-year-old Kusika Kudia back driving his wheelchair-accessible vehicle in south Dublin.

That was just 48 hours after he was handed down a nine-month suspended sentence for forcing his tongue into the mouth of a female passenger.

The images have sparked a call from the National Private Hire Taxi Association (NPHTA ) that gardaí ensure the immediate revocation of any driver's taxi licence where he or she is convicted of a sexual offence.

Spokesman Jim Waldron told the Sunday World: "In any case where a taxi-driver is convicted of a sexual assault, his licence should be immediately revoked.

Kudia with wheelchair access cab.

Kudia with wheelchair access cab.

"The National Transport Association should also be investigating whether it supplied the driver concerned with a grant.

"The driver in this instance has a ­wheelchair accessible vehicle, and if a grant was issued to help towards the cost of the vehicle that money should be called back, as this would be a clear breach of the conditions attached to that.

"More importantly though, I do believe his licence should be revoked.

"Anyone convicted of a sexual offence should have their licence revoked immediately," said the spokesman.

Kusika Kudia’s taxi licence which still has two years to run

Kusika Kudia’s taxi licence which still has two years to run

"This should be raised in the courts when a person is convicted. The garda required to give evidence should be made available, and the revocation should be done by the judge there and then.

"The order should be made on the basis of whether this person is a fit and proper person to drive members of the public in a taxi."

Mr Waldron said that in the past the gardaí have waited until a driver's SPSV (Small Public Service Vehicle) licence is up for renewal, and that only then the application may be refused on the basis that the person is not fit to drive a taxi.

In the case of Kusika Kudia, his licence is not up for renewal until July 2023 - more than two years from now.

Mr Waldron said this allows drivers with serious convictions to continue driving.

"The perception of taxi drivers is not helped by this and that's for sure," he said.

Kudia challenged by our reporter and insists he is allowed to drive a taxi.

Kudia challenged by our reporter and insists he is allowed to drive a taxi.

"There are many good and professional taxi drivers out there who have good histories not just in our trade but also in other professions before they came into this.

"And the likes of this doesn't help them because it tarnishes the image of all drivers."

Mr Waldron also clarified that the NPHTA is calling for the revocation of a driver's SPSV licence in any case where he or she is convicted of a sexual assault - and not just in cases where the driver's vehicle features in the commission of the assault.

Confronted by the Sunday World in ­Ballyboden on Friday, Kudia said no one had said anything to him about the possibility his conviction could impact his licence.

"My barrister told me he will send me a letter in the post." Asked whether he can still drive his taxi, he responded: "Yes."

Asked whether he feared the conviction could see his licence revoked, he said: ­"Nobody told me that.

"I asked the barrister and he told me I have the nine months (suspended sentence), I didn't really understand, and then the 12 months probation."

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard this week how Kudia kissed the female passenger without her consent as she was collecting her bag from his car.

The 55-year-old, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the woman outside her Dublin home on February 13, last year.

Garda Mark Paul told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, that the woman got into Kudia's taxi with a friend following a night out in Dublin.

Her friend was dropped off before she directed Kudia to take her to her home. She said she checked if he accepted card payment and when he said he did not, she asked to stop at an ATM to withdraw cash.

On her return to the taxi, Kudia asked her to sit in the front seat beside him rather than in the back seat as she had been doing.

She refused to move but Kudia asked her again to move.

The woman later told gardaí that Kudia was not aggressive and spoke in a quiet voice and she continued to refuse to move to the front seat.

On reaching her destination, she got out of the car but went to the other side of the vehicle to make sure she had remembered all her belongings. She then noticed that Kudia had got out of the taxi.

She later told gardaí that he asked for a hug and to "come back with me".

She refused but he wrapped his arms around her and "got a good hold of her".

Once she realised he had a strong hold of her she said "no in a meaningful way" and tried to elbow him but he pushed his face to her and forced his tongue into her mouth.

She then went into "survival mode" and managed to get into her house.

Kudia was identified from CCTV footage of the friends getting into his taxi.

He was interviewed two weeks later and said he knew what the problem was. He accepted he kissed the woman without permission but said he had not used his tongue.

A victim impact statement was handed into court but not read out.

Keith Spencer BL, defending, submitted to the court that his client's livelihood is now in jeopardy.

He said Kudia came to Ireland in 1997 from the Congo.

He obtained Irish citizenship in 2005 and began working as a truck driver until he got a taxi license in 2019.

He asked the court to accept that his ­client has no criminal history and he has not been accused of any similar behaviour since.

"It was a massive error of judgement. He accepts that he had no right to make the advance he did," Mr Spencer said.

Garda Paul agreed that Kudia continues to drive his taxi and has not been accused of any such behaviour since.

Judge Karen O'Connor said that Kudia's ­behaviour was "totally and utterly ­unacceptable and it amounted to sexual assault".

"A person who is the holder of a public vehicle licence has a duty to be trustworthy and ensure members of the public can travel safely and be returned home safely," she said.

She took into account a number of mitigating factors, including Kudia's lack of previous convictions and his early guilty plea.

She sentenced him to nine months suspended, on a number of conditions including that Kudia remain under the supervision of the Probation Service for 12 months.

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