A NEWPORT rapist may have committed other similar offences according to police and they have urged any possible victims to come forward.
Asif Iqbal, 42, of Alice Street, was jailed for 12 years at Cardiff Crown Court on Monday after admitting raping two women while working as a taxi driver in the area and perverting the course of justice.
Speaking after the sentencing, DC Laura Thomas, from Gwent Police, said: “This man may have committed other similar offences and I would welcome anyone else who believes they were a victim to come forward. We have specially trained officers who will be available for people to talk to.”
Iqbal was a licensed taxi driver in the city and Newport City Council said it suspended his licence as soon as it became aware of the allegations.
A spokeswoman for the council said its licensing committee will nowformally revoke his licence at the earliest opportunity.
She said: “As the judge said, Asif Iqbal betrayed the trust put in him by his passengers and we utterly condemn his despicable behaviour.
Wewould like to extend our sympathy to the victims of these horrendous crimes.”
The spokeswoman said all drivers licensed by the council have been fully vetted, including the completion of a Criminal Records Bureau disclosure form.
Lionel Morris, chairman of Newport Hackney Taxi Driver Association, said there is a difference between the way private hire cars and Hackney taxi drivers should operate.
He said: “Unfortunately this criminal activity still gives the average people in the town a bad view of taxi drivers because they do not know the way the system works.”
The association’s secretary, Malik Haseeb Ahsan, said Iqbal was not a member of the association.
He said: “Newport Hackney drivers don’t want this type of behaviour.
“I feel ashamed of his actions. This one person has given the whole trade a bad name.”
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Appeal to victims
IT is frightening to think that the Newport taxi driver convicted this week of two rapes could have attacked more women.
Yesterday Gwent police said they believed Asif Iqbal may have more victims, although it is unclear what is leading them to this conclusion.
Even more worrying is that Iqbal was a licensed driver.
We often report on the warnings to women about getting into unlicensed vehicles and the dangers that can involve.
However, in this case, Iqbal was licensed and the women who got in to his taxi should have had nothing to fear.
Could it have been avoided?
It’s hard to know how when a man who passes police and council checks strikes like this.
Are there any lessons to be learned? The only way women could ever know they are safe is by travelling with a companion, but that is not always possible or practical.
For now, Iqbal is behind bars and unable to pose any more danger to women.
We would urge any other woman who may have been attacked to come forward.
If he has attacked again we would hope his sentence would be extended.
In reality he will serve about half of the 12 years given to him.
While this case is unusual, it is a timely reminder to all women to always ensure they are as safe as they can be when travelling alone.