Fake taxi driver convicted of sexual offences against vulnerable women
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A Pevensey man who posed as a taxi driver and attempted to rape and sexually assault two women has been convicted at court.
Police were investigating the attempted rape of a woman in Brighton in August, 2022 when, in November of that year, a separate report was received of a woman having been sexually assaulted in a vehicle, which she believed to be a taxi.
Investigators soon realised both incidents were connected.
The first incident was reported by a woman in her late teens on 19 August, who was dragged into bushes in Hove Park by a man in the early hours of that morning. She had earlier received a lift from him from Brighton to Hove Park.
He attempted to rape her, but fled the scene when the victim’s mobile phone rang.
Her attacker was described as a 40-50-year-old short man wearing a face mask.
She was supported by specialist officers while an investigation was launched.
CCTV footage from that investigation showed the victim approaching a silver Mercedes estate, which was then tracked through city centre CCTV and doorbell footage driving slowly along the road near Hove Park.
On 18 November, a woman in her 20s reported waking up in a vehicle, which she believed to be a taxi, to find a man sexually assaulting her. She had earlier got into what she thought was a taxi taking her from Brighton to Hove.
She managed to escape, called police at around 3.10am and was able to remember three digits of the car’s registration plate.
Within minutes, officers located the vehicle – a silver Mercedes estate - and stopped it in Preston Circus following a short pursuit. It was being driven by 66-year-old Graham Head, a short man wearing a face mask.
Inside the vehicle, police located latex gloves, condoms, Viagra tablets and a balaclava.
A mobile phone belonging to the victim was also discovered discarded by the roadside in Chatham Place, Brighton, along the route taken by Head during the pursuit.
Head, of Coast Road in Pevensey, was arrested on suspicion of kidnap, attempted rape and failing to stop a vehicle when asked to do so.
Investigators linked his vehicle to the August attack and the next day he was further arrested for those offences.
He was subsequently charged with kidnap, attempted rape, assault by penetration, sexual assault and remanded in custody.
At Hove Crown Court on Friday (2 June), Head was found guilty of kidnap, attempted rape and assault by penetration. He has been remanded in custody pending sentence
Detective Constable Elliott Lander from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team said: “Graham Head is a predatory offender who gained the trust of these victims by posing as a taxi driver, only to take advantage of vulnerable women in the most abhorrent ways.
“The items found in his car show the callous, pre-meditated nature of his crimes as he moved through Brighton and Hove looking for potential victims.
“Thanks to the quick-thinking and bravery of these two women, we were quickly able to connect Head to both incidents and bring him to justice. I would like to thank them both for their support during this investigation.
“Without them, this dangerous individual could still be at large. Instead, he has been brought to justice and the streets of Brighton and Hove are safer as a result.
“We believe Head may have further victims who have not yet come forward. If you believe you may have been a victim, or have any information which could help, please contact police online or via 101, quoting Operation Cooper. Always dial 999 in an emergency.”