A FORMER taxi driver who attempted to kiss a female passenger and moved his hand up and down the thigh of another is facing the prospect of jail time.
Swarn Singh Randhawa (54) pleaded guilty to unlawful and indecent assault against a 21-year-old woman and unlawful and indecent assault against a 19-year-old woman when he appeared in Mandurah Magistrates Court yesterday . He was supported by his family.
“He (Randhawa) said it was an embarrassment to his family and community as he is a very religious man, and has faced humiliation within his church,” defence lawyer Trent Petherick said.
Police prosecutor Neville Palmer said both incidents occurred on the same day, minutes apart, on June 7 in 2015.
Sgt Palmer said at 4.45am, the 21-year-old victim was picked up from Smart Street taxi rank and sat in the front passenger seat.
On the way to her Dudley Park home, at a lights intersection, Randhawa leant over to place his hand on the woman’s hands before placing his hand on her inner right thigh, moving it up her legs.
He then grabbed her cheeks and tried to pull her face towards his.
Randhawa then tried to hug the woman, and attempted to kiss her.
About 15 minutes later Randhawa picked up a group of friends at Smart Street taxi rank at 5am, where the 19-year-old victim sat in the front passenger seat.
The victim was the last to be dropped off.
Randhawa moved his hand up and down the 19-year-old’s thigh and told her “you’re beautiful” and “you’re a very cute girl”.
Randhawa dropped the woman at Hungry Jack’s where she was picked up by her mother.
On June 22 in 2015, Randhawa was arrested and made certain admissions.
He later flew to India and did not appear in court until 2018.
“When he was requested to come back to Australia he did,” Mr Petherick said.
Mr Petherick said because Randhawa did not make contact with the victim’s genitals he would push for fines to be implemented for sentencing.
“The defending itself is at the lower end as it was a brief touching,” Mr Petherick said.
“He (Randhawa) and his family can’t explain why it occurred but he said he was homesick for his family at the time, who had moved to India.”
Magistrate Anne Longden said a fine would not be an adequate sentence.
“He has no previous criminal record, but that’s the way he could get employment in the first place, and get these women in the position he wanted,” she said.
“Imprisonment’s on the cards”.
Sgt Palmer suggested a pre-sentence report be arranged before sentencing due to the seriousness of Randhawa’s offending.
“Young women at night time put their trust in taxi drivers, and they shouldn’t have been assaulted as they were,” he said.
Ms Longden ordered pre-sentence report before Randhawa’s sentencing.
He is due to reappear in Mandurah Magistrates Court on June 19.