A woman who was raped by a minicab driver has told for the first time of her horrific ordeal.
The publishing assistant from east London has chosen to tell her story, saying: "It is difficult to go through it all again but I have no choice. I have got to tell people to stop it happening to other women.
She added: "I thought minicabs were safe, I thought I was strong and I thought it wouldn't happen to me - but it did.
Rebecca, 31, was raped by Mohammed Akhtar, an Afghan who posed as a minicab driver to lure women outside bars and nightclubs. He picked her up in the West End and drove her to a cemetery near his home in Hendon. There he attacked her after pretending his car had run out of petrol.
Seven weeks previously Akhtar, 28, who was granted asylum in 1999, picked up a Norwegian university student outside a bar in central London and drove her to Kensington, where he raped her in a side street.
The 21-year-old is too scarred by her attack to return to Britain, while Rebecca still has nightmares from which she wakes screaming, suffers loss of vision and has crying fits.
The night that changed Rebecca's life began so promisingly. Recently having moved to London from Guildford, she had just begun an exciting new job in publishing and she had arranged to meet two girlfriends at a pub.
She said: "I was in a really good mood. I met the girls at about 9pm and we drank a couple of beers before moving on to the Metro nightclub. It was about 3am when we left. Then she waited for a bus on Tottenham Court Road. Rebecca said: "After an hour a bus arrived but the driver told me I was on the wrong side of the road. I crossed the road and went into a newsagent. As I was leaving a man came up to me and asked if I wanted a minicab. I was tired, so I said, 'Yes.'
Rebecca followed him to his car. "I didn't really know where I was, but he seemed to know where he was going. It was only an hour or so later that I realised we were nowhere near my flat.
In fact Rebecca was in Hendon. She thought he was taking her on a longer route to increase the fare and rang 999 in a bid to frighten him. Akhtar pulled the car to the side of the road and agreed when the operator asked to speak to him, telling her he was taking Rebecca home.
She said: "He didn't look annoyed at me for ringing 999. But 10 minutes after driving off he told me he had run out of petrol. By now it was 5am and I was tired and really pissed off. He told me to get out but I shouted at him to call me another taxi.
"He refused and pointed up the road and said the Tube was just over there.He marched off and I had no option but to follow.
In silence, Rebecca followed him across Sunny Hill Park and into a lane. She said: "Suddenly he grabbed my shoulders, pushing me backwards. It was as if he had snapped. I shouted, 'Get off me,' and tried to knee him in the balls but he held me back.
"I started crying and he said, 'Shut up or I'll kill you.' I believed him. He pulled my boots off, pulled my jeans down and raped me. I was terrified and just kept saying,'I want my mum.'
"The actual rape lasted maybe only a minute or two. He then said 'Now you can go and get your Tube.'Then he walked off.
As Rebecca pulled on her clothes she dialled 999 and sobbed: "I've been raped. After speaking to the police she was given a medical examination and an HIV test, for which she is still awaiting the results.
Akhtar was picked up two weeks later after he was identified on the newsagent's CCTV. He has been jailed for nine years after pleading guilty to both attacks at the Old Bailey. Judge Christopher Moss told him: "These were brutal and wicked offences and it appears your victims have been greatly affected.
"You used your illegal trade as an unlicensed minicab driver to obtain your victims. Attacks such as these on vulnerable and defenceless women will always attract a substantial sentence. Rebecca is relieved he is behind bars but wishes he had got life. "I hate him,'' she said.
She is determined to get on with her life but is still traumatised. "When men I don't know talk to me I go quiet and want them to leave me alone. But inside I am screaming.
Source: Mail online.
Names and some details have been changed. For advice on sexual offences visit the Met's website w w w.met.police.uk/sapphire
This article was written by HARRIET ARKELL, of the Evening Standard.