Thursday, July 4, 2013

Woman jailed lying police, taxi driver sexually assaulted her in cab. He proves innocence with app recording conversation

Woman jailed for lying to police that taxi driver had sexually assaulted her in his cab after he proved his innocence with a smartphone app recording of their conversation

  • Astria Berwick, 27, falsely accused Mohammed Asif of attacking her in taxi
  • Said he sexually assaulted her and slashed her face with a knife
  • Mr Asif had been recording journeys using app on his mobile phone
  • The app was switched on because the CCTV in his cab was broken
  • Berwick jailed for 16 months at Nottingham Crown Court
  • Judge said 'wholly innocent' father-of-two was 'saved' by his phone

By Kerry Mcdermott

PUBLISHED: 11:22 GMT, 4 July 2013 | UPDATED: 13:30 GMT, 4 July 2013

A woman who falsely accused a taxi driver of sexually assaulting her at knifepoint has been jailed - after he exposed her 'outrageous' lies thanks to an app on his mobile phone.

Astria Berwick, 27, told police Mohammed Asif, 34, had subjected her to a terrifying attack in his cab as he drove her home from Nottingham city centre in February.

But the father-of-two was able to prove his innocence with an app he was using to record his journeys because the CCTV in his cab was broken.

'Outrageous behaviour': After travelling home from a night out in Mohammed Asif's taxi, Astria Berwick called police and falsely accused the father-of-two of sexually assaulting her in the cab

'Outrageous behaviour': After travelling home from a night out in Mohammed Asif's taxi, Astria Berwick called police and falsely accused the father-of-two of sexually assaulting her in the cab

'Wholly innocent': Mr Asif, 34, was able to prove his innocence thanks to an app on his mobile phone which captured an audio recording of Berwick's cab journey

'Wholly innocent': Mr Asif, 34, was able to prove his innocence thanks to an app on his mobile phone which captured an audio recording of Berwick's cab journey

Berwick has now been jailed for 16 months after she admitted perverting the course of justice.

A judge at Nottingham Crown Court condemned Berwick's 'outrageous behaviour' after saying she had invented the story for 'some unaccountable reason'.

Mr Asif told the court he had picked up Berwick in Nottingham City Centre at around 4.50pm on February 20, and that she had seemed 'drunk but not out of it'.

He said that, aside from her asking him to pull over in a layby so that she could be sick, the 11-mile journey to her home in Bingham was an unremarkable one.

'She opened the door, said "thank you very much" and said "thanks" again as she shut the door and walked away,' he said.

But Berwick then called police and claimed the taxi driver had sexually assaulted her and slashed her face with a knife.

Within hours Mr Asif was pulled over by a police van, handcuffed and arrested on suspicion of sexual assault.

'I just thought "my god, I've done nothing wrong, why would they say that?",' said Mr Asif, who told how he broke down in the police cell after his arrest.

Mr Asif said he still has trouble sleeping as a result of Berwick's false accusations
Berwick was jailed for 16 months for perverting the course of justice

Lies: Mr Asif, who told how he broke down in a police cell after he was falsely accused of sexual assault, said Berwick's lies had torn his life apart

Mr Asif, who has a son, 14, and a daughter, eight, said when he received the call from the taxi firm headquarters to go and collect Berwick, he was warned she was drunk.

'When I got the call to pick this woman up, my boss told me that she was drunk and that I should get the money up front in case she didn't pay,' he explained.

'I knew my CCTV was not working so decided to use the voice recorder on my phone and dropped her off as normal, she seemed to be a happy customer.'

Although Mr Asif was able to use the audio recording on his Samsung Galaxy smartphone to prove Berwick was lying, the taxi driver said the experience had torn his life apart.

'She changed my life. I'm completely different now. I'm scared to go out,' he said, adding that he was unable to work for a month after his arrest and lost a stone in weight.

'I keep thinking, "I just dropped her off, she was just a normal passenger, why has she done that?"

Mr Asif, of Carlton, Nottingham, told how he felt 'really lucky' he had switched on the app on the day Berwick got into his cab, and said that without it he believed he would now be on remand waiting to face a judge and jury.

Mr Asif said: 'If I ever met her again, although I don't want to, I'd just ask "why?"'

Judge Michael Stokes QC, Recorder of Nottingham, said as Berwick was sentenced: 'This was outrageous behaviour by the defendant against a wholly innocent man who had been saved by the recording on his phone.'

On her Facebook page, Berwick describes how she is 'honest as she doesn't like lying (that's probably my downfall, too honest)', and 'enjoys a good joke (sometimes at other people's expense)'.

She lists her favourite quotations as 'do unto others as they would do unto you', and 'what comes around goes around'.

Nottinghamshire Police confirmed that Berwick also alleged that Mr Asif had slashed her face with a knife, but her story proved untrue. 

DC Laura Clarke from Public Protection at Nottingham Police said: 'Falsely reporting crimes like this does not just cause harm to the unsuspecting victim but also true victims of sexual offences may be reluctant to report crimes against them for fear of not being believed.

'False allegations have a huge impact on those people falsely accused, for them, their family and friends, it can be life changing.

'Nottinghamshire Police investigate every crime thoroughly to discover the truth.'



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2355655/Astria-Berwick-Woman-jailed-lying-police-taxi-driver-sexually-assaulted-cab.html#ixzz2Y6Jr22et

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