Woman kidnapped and raped by fake cab driver in 'truly horrendous and disturbing' ordeal in Plymouth

Yuseab Woldeab's car was caught on CCTV Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

A Plymouth man pretended to be a taxi driver to kidnap and rape a woman returning from a night out, in what has been described as a "truly horrendous and disturbing crime".

The victim, a woman in her 20s, had spent the evening of 24 April drinking in bars and at a friend's house when she headed home in the early hours.

Yuseab Woldeab, from Wilton Street, Plymouth, was "prowling the streets" in his car, and pulled up beside the woman posing as a taxi driver, offering to take her home.

CCTV examined by detectives shows the victim, who was heavily intoxicated, stumbling along the pavement before a Ford Fiesta, registered to Woldeab, passes her as she walks on Union Street.

Further footage showed the same vehicle pulling into Octagon Street and parking up while he watches the victim walking along the street.

Unaware of the van, the victim continues to walk towards Devonport.

After a short wait, the vehicle performs a U-turn and proceeds down Union Street in the same direction as the victim.

Yuseab Woldeab has been jailed Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

At around 4am, the 27-year-old driver pulled up next to the victim.

This is when Woldeab identified himself as a taxi driver and offered to take her home.

The court heard how during this journey; the victim was "blacking out" because of how much she had drunk.

Woldeab drove the victim to his home address in Wilton Street where he raped her. The victim fled the house when he left the room.

Once the woman got back to her address, she messaged a friend for help and disclosed what had happened to her.

Woldeab was arrested within 30 hours after police were contacted by the victim.

DS Chris Kinski of the Sexual Offences Investigation Team said: “This was a truly horrendous and disturbing crime.

“Woldeab could see that the victim was vulnerable as she was intoxicated. He used this entirely to his advantage when approaching her that night. We believe he had been prowling the streets looking for a victim prior to spotting her.

“I wish to thank the victim for her incredible bravery in coming forward and reporting this to us.

"We know that this was no easy task and that she was fearful of not being believed, however, we take all reports of this nature extremely seriously and are wholeheartedly committed to supporting survivors of sexual abuse.

“I have no doubt that what happened that night will stay with the victim forever.

"I hope this sentencing can provide her with some sense of closure so that she can move on with the same courage and determination that she has shown throughout this process.

“We would urge anyone suffering in silence to come forward. As this case shows, you will be believed and supported and together we will hold offenders to account for their crimes.”

Rebecca Sutherland, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS South West, said: “This was a shocking case in which the defendant deliberately targeted and abducted a lone, vulnerable young woman before subjecting her to an appalling attack.

“Woldeab pleaded not guilty to kidnap and two counts of rape but, thanks to excellent work from the police investigative team and the bravery of the victim in telling her story, the CPS was able to build a compelling case that saw the jury convict on all three charges.

“The CPS is working closely with our partners in the police to develop closer joint working on rape investigations to drive up the number of successful prosecutions and deliver justice for victims.

Yuseab Woldeab's car was spotted on CCTV Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

"We want every victim to have the confidence that their case will be fully investigated by the police and that, in every case where our legal tests are met, the Crown Prosecution Service will charge and prosecute”

Yuseab Woldeab was sentenced to 18 years in prison at Plymouth Crown Court after being found guilty of two counts of rape and one of kidnap.

If you require help or assistance relating to sexual abuse, you can contact:

  • National Rape Crisis Helpline: 0808 802 9999

  • Devon and Cornwall Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC): 0300 3034626

  • Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Independent Sexual Advisor Service: 03458 121212

  • Victim Care Unit: 01392 475900

  • Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services: 01392 204 174

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