A sexual predator who prowled the streets in the early hours posing as a taxi driver looking for a lone woman has been jailed for four years.
A judge told grandfather Barry Smith: “You have in the court’s judgement committed a most sinister offence.
“She was looking for a Good Samaritan. You were a predator on this night and the harm you have caused is considerable. The anxiety and apprehension she feels every time she goes to the town centre will live with her for a considerable time.”
Judge David Aubrey said that Smith had been searching for a lone vulnerable woman trying to make their way home after a night out. “You were posing and masquerading as a taxi driver. You were nothing of the sort, you were on the prowl.
“She flagged you down anticipating you were a taxi driver and you got into the car. You then proceeded to take her to the vicinity of where she lived and she was expecting to pay the fare.”
But the court heard that Smith, who had locked his car doors, said she didn’t have to pay if she performed a sex act.
The victim, a 30-year-old student, screamed in terror and managed to escape without complying with his sex demands. But the judge pointed out, “It is the circumstances surrounding the sexual activity that makes it so serious.”
Smith, 58, was caught two weeks later after vigilant passers-by and a taxi driver spotted him again cruising around Wigan town centre and picking up a lone female.
Judge Aubrey pointed out that after his Nissan X-Trail was forced to stop the woman, who has never been traced, fled in a distressed state.
Smith, of Bengairn Close, Whelley, still vehemently denies the allegations but was convicted by a Liverpool Crown Court jury last month of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent.
He was ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for life.
During his four day trial Zillah Williams, prosecuting, said that “Smith was driving around the streets of Wigan that night to prey on such unsuspecting and vulnerable females.”
After the incident the victim immediately rang the police. The car was seen on CCTV footage but not the registration plate and police made a public appeal for information.
Paul Becker, defending, said that Smith has no previous convictions and was a hard working man who had been married for 35 years. He suffers from health problems and had been struggling to cope in prison.