Birmingham & Black Country

Snobs and Southside BID 'reported taxi rank' before rape

Snobs nightclub Image copyright Google
Image caption Snobs said the teenager was "looked after", checked by a paramedic and staff tried to find her friends

A nightclub accused by a judge of "abandoning" a drunk student who was later raped said it had raised concerns about an unofficial taxi rank outside.

Sajid Hussain, 35, a taxi marshal near Snobs nightclub in Birmingham was convicted of sexual assault and another man was jailed for rape.

The club and a business group said they previously reported the unofficial rank to the council.

Birmingham City Council said it was "really concerned" by the incident.

The 19-year-old was abducted in a transit van and and raped after leaving Snobs in Smallbrook Queensway in the early hours of 20 February, 2015.

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Hussain, was jailed for six years and her rapist Zaheer Abbas, 30, was jailed for 11 years earlier this month.

Judge Mary Stacy had earlier told Birmingham Crown Court: "Snobs abandoned her on the street where she was prey to the likes of Abbas and Hussain."

'Looked after'

A spokesman for Snobs and Southside Business Improvement District (BID), said Hussain was "not employed or associated" with either organisation and the "unofficial" rank he worked for had been reported to the council prior to the rape.

He said in May 2015, Southside instigated an official taxi rank outside the club "out of its own pot" due to the council's budget constraints. "Unfortunately this was too late," he said.

The BID area now has three official ranks with "CRB checked" marshals, he added.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Zaheer Abbas (left) and Sajad Hussain were both jailed

Wayne Tracey, co-owner of Snobs, said the teenager "was found asleep in the toilet", checked by an onsite paramedic and "accompanied out of the building" into a cordoned-off area in front of the venue. Staff tried to find her friends in Snobs and a short time later she made her way to the taxi rank.

"At no point was she abandoned - she was looked after until she decided to make her own way home. Unfortunately, we are unable to compel members of the public to stay on site and no club can be expected to help visitors into taxis," he said.

Mr Tracey added: "We believe that the issue at hand is the licensing of taxi marshals and set-up of official taxi ranks in the city, which affects all clubs and bars."

A spokesman for the council said it was working with firms to improve the arrangements at taxi ranks in the Southside BID, which covers much of Birmingham city centre.

"Licensed Hackney carriages are allowed to operate from official ranks in the Southside BID area, but we advise people not to allow themselves to be put into licensed vehicles other than by a Southside BID marshal, who will put you into a black cab," they said.

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