Jamie Edward Tavener leaves Townsville Magistrates Court. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Jamie Edward Tavener leaves Townsville Magistrates Court. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Passenger fined for sexually assaulting Uber driver

A DRUNK passenger who touched a female Uber driver on the groin has avoided having a conviction recorded.

Jamie Edward Tavener, 29, faced Townsville Magistrates Court yesterday to be sentenced for sexual assault over an incident in an Uber on July 14 2017.

Police prosecutor Darryn Casson said Tavener's friend had ordered an Uber to the Avenues Tavern about 11.15pm but when the vehicle arrived asked the 46-year-old female driver if he could put the defendant into the car instead.

"During the Uber ride the victim has asked 'so you're going to the Seaview, are you?' … the defendant has responded 'I'll go wherever you want me to go'.

"The defendant has then placed his right hand on the victim's left thigh near her groin with the palm of his hand on her groin.

"The victim has then grabbed the defendant's hand and removed it and said 'don't you dare touch me'."

Mr Casson said Tavener slumped back in his seat and said he was only joking before repeatedly telling the driver she was beautiful.

"The victim had become fearful and felt increasingly uncomfortable by the defendant."

Mr Casson said the driver pulled over, asked Tavener to get out of the car and he tried to give her a hug and a fist pump before getting out.

Defence barrister Scott Geeves said Tavener was "thoroughly ashamed" of his behaviour.

"His behaviour, although coming at the end of a long day at the pub, can't be excused," he said.

Mr Geeves described the assault as a "fleeting touch on the outside of her clothing" and said there was no groping involved.

Mr Geeves submitted that a conviction should not be recorded because of the effect that one might have on Tavener's future career and travel plans.

Magistrate Ross Mack said "men don't get it as far as behaviour towards women when they're drunk".

"There is nothing about your behaviour that is anything other than obtuse and degrading, diminishing of the person with whom you were dealing," he said. "Even with the most robust view for you it was way out of line.

"It's all very well for us to look at it in hindsight in the cold light of day some 12 months after the event and say nothing happened but at that time … she had nothing to give her any confidence that this would not escalate to something far worse."

Tavener was fined $1500 and ordered to pay $500 compensation to the victim. A conviction was not recorded.

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