Nelson van driver not guilty of sex attack

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Van driver Jhangir Akbar has been found not guilty of sexual assault and assault by penetration on a Nelson mother who had accepted a lift from him.

Judge Beverly Lunt handed down the majority verdict at Burnley Crown Court last week.

The jury of five men and seven women were told the woman had been out drinking and accepted a lift from Akbar, of Railway Street, when the taxi she had booked did not turn up.

Akbar said he knew the woman, and that she wanted to talk. He said she had asked him for a cuddle and had instigated the sexual activity. In the witness box he said he had been shocked when questioned by police about an allegation of rape, but he had not thought it necessary to mention that he had touched her sexually.

The court was told that the van was parked up at the entrance to Victoria Park when the incident happened. The woman said she had become worried when Akbar, who knew her address, did not go directly there. Akbar said he drove to the woman’s street, that she got out of his van and then immediately got back in and suggested continuing their chat. He said she suggested going for a ride.

Miss Bernadette Baxter (defending) said the woman was dishonest in what she alleged, and had been shown to be dishonest and unreliable because she had lied about the arrangements for looking after her children while she was out drinking.