Woman, 27, who made false rape claim against taxi driver facing jail

A woman is facing jail for falsely claiming she had been raped by a taxi driver after a drunken night out.

Laura Hood, 27, lied that her cab driver had stopped his car at the side of the road and sexually assaulted her in the back seat while he was giving her a lift home.

Detectives investigated her claims and arrested Haroon Yousaf as well as another driver of a different taxi with a similar number plate.

Mr Yousaf, 29, who was detained in front of colleagues at a taxi rank, spent a total of 20 hours being questioned in custody.

Police suspected he had been wrongly accused when his vehicle tracker device showed his cab had never stopped but had driven Hood straight home in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

There was no evidence of physical contact and in her statement Hood claimed her attacker was 58.

The other driver arrested was also cleared of any wrongdoing. Both men had to provide intimate samples and protested their innocence at all times.

During her trial, it emerged Hood made the false rape allegation after she lost her gold iPhone 5s and became separated from friends on a night out in Manchester city centre.

She had been drinking Prosecco, cider and vodka shots at Revolution bar to celebrate her best friend’s birthday on January 7, 2017, Minshull Street Crown Court heard.

The HR worker got into Mr Yousaf’s cab at around 1.10am and asked to be taken home.

Geoff Whelan, prosecuting, said: ‘She appeared to be drunk as she did so and said she just wanted to go home as she had lost her friends and her mobile phone.

‘She said she had £20 and asked how much it was going to be. Mr Yousaf gave her an estimate of about £25 and she asked to be taken to a bank.

‘Mr Yousaf drove her to a Tesco Express where CCTV footage showed the taxi stopping there at 1.22am with the defendant getting out to use the cash machine.

‘By 1.23am the taxi was driving off again and Mr Yousaf followed the directions on his satnav and took her straight home and reached the destination.’

He said the 26 minute journey was ‘entirely unremarkable’ but that when she got home, Hood woke her mother who asked if she was ok.

She began ‘sobbing uncontrollably’ was shaking and ‘unable to breathe’ as she told her mum and stepdad she had been raped.

Mr Whelan said Hood claimed the driver pulled over during the journey home and ‘got in the back of the cab, grabbed her and pulled her knickers down’.

When a police officer arrived at the house, Hood was hiding under her duvet and ‘extremely distraught’, the court heard.

Police tracked down Mr Yousaf and arrested him at a cab rank at Piccadilly railway station in Manchester after checking CCTV at the Tesco Express cashpoint.

He denied the allegation and handed police the tracker device that showed he had not stopped during the journey.

The prosecutor said that were it not for the tracker, the driver may have found himself on trial for rape.

When detectives went to interview Hood, she initially stayed in her bedroom and refused to come downstairs, the court heard.

Hood wept as she was was found guilty of perverting the course of justice today.

She accepted no rape took place but denied wrongdoing insisting she had she ‘believed’ at the time she was sexually assaulted.

In a statement, married father-of-two 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.

‘However I’m now negative and worry that things can go wrong. 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.

‘I had to take my clothes off in front of a stranger. 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.’