Unlicensed Taxi Driver Jailed

An unlicensed taxi driver who raped a woman on Christmas Eve after she left a nightclub has been jailed for eight years.

44 year old Nathan Gifford raped the 25-year-old in 2011 after she left the club in Gillingham, Kent.

The woman had been out with her friend but they had become separated and Gifford helped her into a taxi he had borrowed from a friend, Kent Police said.

Gifford, who had spent the evening picking up unofficial fares, then raped the woman and abandoned her.

Two men found her in a distressed state in an alleyway near the Medway Maritime Hospital and police were called.

Gifford, of Coleshall Close, Maidstone, Kent, was then arrested later on Christmas Eve and denied the offence. He was found guilty at Maidstone Crown Court last month. He was sentenced today at the same court.

Detective Inspector Lee Whitehead said: ``Gifford gave the impression of being a professional taxi driver and then preyed on the victim while she was in a vulnerable state.

``The victim probably felt that she was safe when she stepped into the rogue taxi driver's vehicle but he took full advantage of the situation.

``A swift investigation using automatic number plate recognition technology and CCTV evidence, led to Gifford's arrest on the same day as the offence.

``Gifford denied the offence throughout the trial, which resulted in the victim having to suffer the ordeal of being cross-examined in court.

``She was incredibly brave to come forward and support this prosecution. Her actions have prevented someone else having to go through what she has.''

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: ``This has been a horrible experience and every now and then I thought that I couldn't go through with going to court.

``When he was found guilty it was a huge relief. I felt that justice had been done.

``When I think of him I feel sick. That Christmas was horrible but my family were very supportive, they kept me going. I will go out again but right now I am not ready.

``Girls should be able to go out but I would say always use a licensed reputable taxi firm and when you can go out in a large group.''