Kent

Unlicensed Kent taxi driver Nathan Lee jailed for rape

Nathan Gifford
Image caption Nathan Gifford was found guilty after a nine-day trial in Maidstone

An unlicensed taxi driver from Kent found guilty of raping a 25-year-old woman on Christmas Eve has been jailed for eight years.

Nathan Lee Gifford, 44, of Coleshall Close, Maidstone, attacked the woman after he helped her into a taxi he had borrowed to pick up unofficial fares.

The woman had been out partying with friends, but became separated and left the club in Gillingham at 02:35 GMT.

Gifford, who denied rape, was charged on Christmas Day.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, issued a warning through Kent Police to other women.

'Feel sick'

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

"I will go out again but right now I am not ready. When I think of him I feel sick."

Police said the woman was discovered by two men curled up in an alleyway near the Medway Maritime Hospital at 03:10 GMT.

She had tried to call for help but could not get through on her mobile phone.

Gifford was found guilty at Maidstone Crown Court last month after a nine-day trial, which the victim said had been a "horrible experience".

Det Insp Lee Whitehead said: "Gifford gave the impression of being a professional taxi driver and then preyed on the victim whilst she was in a vulnerable state.

"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."

Gifford was also put on the Sex Offenders Register and given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, both indefinitely.

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