A taxi driver has been convicted of sexually assaulting a young woman as he was bringing her home from a Dublin city centre pub.
Augustin Ion (aged 49) groped the woman's breast and held her head back against the car seat outside her house.
He also asked her to come with him into the back seat and asked if he could come into her house with her.
A jury with a 11 to one majority rejected Ion's claims that the woman was extremely aggressive, told him to “f**k off and drive” and refused to pay the fare.
He claimed she only made a complaint to gardaí because she thought he was going to report her for not paying him.
Prosecuting counsel Eilis Brennan BL told the jury this was a “tissue of lies”.
The jury took just under three hours to return the guilty verdict following a single day of evidence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Ion has been released on bail pending sentence on January 23 next.
The prosecution consented to bail on condition that Ion agreed not to drive a taxi in the meantime or to apply for a new passport.
Ion of Garrynisk Square, Tallaght, Dublin and originally from Romania had pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting the woman outside her home on the night of November 20, 2014.
The woman told Ms Brennan that she was in a city centre pub with friends where she had one red wine and four or five vodkas over the course of about five hours.
She said she left at about 11.30pm because she had a headache and was in work the next day.
She lived about five minutes away but decided to get a taxi because she didn't want to walk alone down dark alleyways.
She got in the front of the taxi out of habit because she was from the country where that was the done thing, she said.
She was holding her head and told Ion she had a headache when he asked what was wrong. Ion started rubbing her neck as they stopped at the traffic lights.
She told him she was fine and he continued to drive.
When they reached her house he started rubbing the back of her head and kissed her on the side of the face.
He grabbed her breast and asked her if she wanted to get in the back seat. He also asked her if he could come inside with her.
The woman said she “froze” and told Ion she had to go. Ion told her “just wait five minutes” before holding her head back against the seat rest.
“I was panicking,” she said. “I kept thinking he was going to drive away with me in the car.”
The fare was between €6 and €7 and that she gave him €20.
She asked him for €10 back and told him to keep the change before getting out. She noted his name and some of his registration before going into her house.
Defence counsel Gerard Charlton BL asked the woman why she gave the man a tip if she was so scared.
“I just wanted to go, I didn’t want to aggravate him,” she responded.
Ion told gardaí in interview that the woman was very drunk when she got into the car. He said when he asked her if she was going to be sick she responded “fuck off and drive.”
He said when they arrived at the destination she didn't have any money and told him again to “f**k off”.
Ion said he threatened to call gardaí and the woman responded that she would call gardaí and claim that he trapped her in his car.
He said she then got out without paying. He did not call the gardaí because he was very busy with fares, he said.