Man denies being ‘fake taxi rapist’

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A woman was raped after getting into a car in Wigan which she believed was a taxi, a jury has heard.

The alleged victim got into the car driven by Lee Watson after he drove up behind her and asked if she needed a taxi, it was claimed.

She was walking home alone after a row while out with her partner and his friend in Wigan town centre on Friday, December 4.

While on Ormskirk Road she made phone calls to her step-daughter arranging to meet her at a takeaway and in the last call she said she was en route in a taxi, said Frank Dillon, prosecuting.

When the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, did not turn up her step-daughter rang her but the calls went to voice mail.

“She was unable to answer, say the prosecution, because she was being raped in Lee Watson’s car and was unable to reach for her phone,” claimed Mr Dillon. “The prosecution case is that Lee Watson was cruising around, looking for a woman who might be the worse for drink, a woman of whom he could take advantage.”

Watson, 28, of Rivington Street, St Helens, is on trial at Liverpool Crown Court denying rape.

In a video recorded police interview the woman said that she had believed the car was a taxi and got into the back.

She tried to fasten her safety belt but failed and was slumped in the back seat when he reached round and began rubbing her inner thigh.

After stopping in a secluded spot he quickly climbed from the front to the rear of the vehicle and got on top of her and raped her, she claimed.

Mr Dillon said that Watson the dropped her off by the takeaway and her step-daughter saw her clearly drunk in the back of the car without her shoes.

Her step-daughter asked Watson if he could take them home but he said he had another call, “maintaining the pretence that he was a taxi driver,” suggested Mr Dillon.

There were no taxi markings on the vehicle and when asked by the step-daughter he allegedly lied about the victim having allegedly already paid him the £5 fare.

Once outside the vehicle the woman said she had been raped and the police were contacted.

The next day Watson went to work and bragged to his foreman that he had “picked up a female with whom he had then had sex”.

He had similar conversations with other colleagues and showed a ring she had left behind. Meanwhile the alleged victim had discovered that her engagement ring was missing and thought she had left it in his car.

Mr Dillon pointed out to the jury that his conversations showed he believed she was highly intoxicated which must raise the question of whether he reasonably believed she was freely consenting to sex.

On December 8, after the police put out a witness appeal about the rape, Watson contacted them and was arrested. When his home was searched the engagement ring was found.

When interviewed he claimed he had been cruising around looking for a car show. He said his wife had asked him to collect her from a night out in Liverpool. “On his own account, despite that call, he still picked up the woman and still found time to have sex with her,” claimed Mr Dillon.

Watson alleged he had seen her stumble at the side of the road and asked if she was okay and she asked for a lift and got into the back of his car before he could answer. He decided just to drop her off as he was going that way anyway.

He denied saying or implying to her or her step-daughter that he was a taxi driver. He claimed she instigated sexual activity and asked him to take her somewhere for sex so he drove to near some industrial units.

Watson claimed she got into the front, climbed on top of him while facing him and they had sexual intercourse.

Mr Dillon told the jury they would have to consider whether he had been looking to take advantage of a woman worse the wear for drink or was he a Good Samaritan.”

The case continues