A TAXI driver falsely accused of rape by a passenger says she’s ruined his life.
Haroon Yousaf, 29, was forced to spend 20 hours in custody after Laura Hood made the claims after a drunken night out in Manchester city centre.
The 27-year-old got into a taxi with Yousaf, who drove her the 26 minute journey home to Stockport via a cash point.
But Hood claimed she was sexually assaulted in the back seat, leading to Yousaf’s arrest on rape charges.
‘THIS IS DISGUSTING’
Today she broke down sobbing as she was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
In a statement Mr Yousaf said: “This still affects me in my day-to-day life and I don’t know if I will ever come back fully from this.
“Before this incident I was a strong person.
“This is the most disgusting thing that anyone can be accused of.
“When I pick up single female passengers I always worry that something could happen again.”
This is the most disgusting thing that anyone can be accused of. When I pick up single female passengers I always worry that something could happen again.
Taxi driver Yaroon Husaf
Mr Yousaf, a married father of two, says his arrest in front of his colleagues left him utterly humiliated.
“I had to take my clothes off in front of a stranger,” he said.
“I had tears in my eyes. I don’t think this female really understands what she has done and how it has affected my life.”
Hood made her false claims of rape after losing her gold iPhone 5s and becoming separated from her friends during a night out in which she knocked back Prosecco, ciders and vodka shots.
Mr Yousaf, who was cleared of any wrongdoing, was able to prove his innocence when he gave details of a tracking device linked to the black cab.
It showed he had driven straight to Hood’s home in Stockport, Greater Manchester without stopping.
There was also no evidence of physical contact between them.
A second taxi driver who was earlier arrested was also cleared of any wrongdoing.
At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Hood was convicted of perverting the course of justice after the jury of nine women and three men took six hours to reach their 10-2 majority guilty verdict.
She accepted no rape took place but denied wrongdoing, insisting she had she ”believed” at the time she was sexually assaulted.
Judge Julie Warburton said: “This is a very serious matter. I maybe assisted by knowing more about the defendant and her background but I don’t feel any of the information I already have is likely to change, but it may well help with the length of the sentence.”
The incident took place on January 7, 2017, after Hood had been out with friends at Revolution bar to celebrate her best friend’s birthday.
If it were not for that tracker data Mr Yousaf may have found himself on trial for rape because the defendant made up a story about him
Prosecutor Geoff Whelan
Prosecutor Geoff Whelan told the court Hood had got out of the taxi to withdraw cash before completing the 26 minute journey shortly after 1am.
The defendant gave him £30 and told him to “keep the change”, Mr Whelan said.
Later that night Hood started “sobbing uncontrollably” and said she’d been raped.
She gave police a graphic false account of what had happened, claiming her attacker was an Asian male of around 58 with a thin face, no beard and no facial hair.
“If it were not for that tracker data Mr Yousaf may have found himself on trial for rape because the defendant made up a story about him,” he said.
He added: ”She accepts that she was in Mr Yousaf’s taxi and she accepts that he drove her home.
I wish I could explain why something is so clear in my head but obviously can’t be true.
Claimant Laura Hood
“She further accepts that Mr Yousaf did not rape her – but says, somehow that she honestly believed she was raped whilst in that taxi.”
Hood told the hearing: “I wish I could explain why something is so clear in my head but obviously can’t be true.
“I accept there’s no psychiatric evidence to explain why I believed this to have happened. I went to the psychiatrists on two occasions.
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“It was clear as day. What I said in interview is what I believed to have happened. I wish I could explain it. I wish the psychiatrist could have helped me.
“I don’t know how something can be so clear in my head but the evidence said it didn’t happen.”
Hood was released on bail and will return to the court for sentencing on August 1.
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