David Perry, 52, was a black cab driver in London.
He was convicted of two offences – widely misreported as “sexual assault”. In fact, Perry was convicted of one count of attempted rape and one count of assault by penetration. The Daily Mail reported the story here.
On separate occasions, Perry picked up the victims – who we shall call V1 and V2, as they are entitled to lifetime anonymity – in his cab.
In January 2013, V1 had been out drinking in east London. She got into Perry’s cab and, drunk, fell asleep. Perry got into the back of the cab and removed V1’s clothing. V1 awoke, “half-naked” with Perry performing “a sex act” upon her. He then attempted to rape her twice.
In May 2014, V2 had also been out drinking in east London. She also got into Perry’s cab and fell asleep. She was also “heavily dunk”. Perry, again, got into the back of the cab, removed V2’s clothing and digitally penetrated her. She woke to find herself without her trousers or underwear on and the driver lying beside her.
Rape – maximum sentence of life imprisonment
Assault by penetration – this offence is often wrongly equated with sexual assault (presumably because it often involves touching with the hands). The reality is that the offence is as serious as rape – and can be more serious. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment.
A look at the respective sentencing guidelines (see pages 9 and 13) demonstrates the similarity between the two, in the view of the courts and the sentencing council.
The judge said:
“They were, by virtue of their drunkenness, particularly vulnerable. Their incapacity made them no less deserving than anyone else of being safe.
They each sought the security and safety they were entitled to expect from a London taxi – a black cab. He exploited his passengers’ obvious vulnerability for his own sexual gratification.
Whilst each was asleep in what should have been the safety of his black cab, he stopped, got in to the back of his cab and stripped and sexually assaulted each victim while they slept or were semi-conscious.”
The judge imposed an extended sentence – considering that Perry posed a “significant risk of serious harm” (the “dangerousness” test). The custodial term was 10 years, and the extended licence was 5 years. There are two sets of release provisions that apply to extended sentences. Because the custodial period of the sentence is 10 years, Perry will have to serve 2/3 of that period before applying to the parole board for release. The board may refuse to release Perry and he may have to serve the full term. When he is released, he will serve the balance of the custodial sentence plus the full 5-year extension period on licence.
Applying the guidelines is a little difficult as the news reports – as ever – do not contain the full facts.
We don’t know the make up of the sentence and so we cannot go through the guidelines, however we can look at the overall total sentence. The way an extended sentence operates is that the custodial portion reflects the seriousness of the offending and the extended licence operates – only – as a protective measure against further offending.
So the question is whether or not 10 years is long enough (or too long) for both offences. They were committed in circumstances which amount to an abuse of trust. The victims were extremely vulnerable. The two attempted rapes – with the addition of the “sex act” amount to a prolonged course of conduct. Assuming Perry pleaded guilty – warranting a 1/3 reduction – gives a starting point of 15 years. That is probably about commensurate with the seriousness here, though I understand why people may feel that it is not in any way long enough.
The police believe that there may be other victims – Perry had been a taxi driver for 25 years. Any one with any information should contact Scotland Yard’s sexual offences unit.