Double rapist who posed as Uber driver jailed for 19 years

Double rapist who posed as Uber driver jailed for 19 years

A sexual predator who raped a sleeping woman while posing as an Uber driver and carried out a violent park attack on a second victim has been jailed for 19 years.

Michael Mehari, 38, stalked the streets of Kennington in search of vulnerable female victims, targeting the first woman as she walked home from a night out with friends.

She was followed by Mehari, dragged onto a secluded pathway in Kennington Gardens, and struck over the head to keep her quiet during the attack.

Mehari remained at large after the 2019 attack, and struck again in March 2022 while posing as a minicab driver, collecting a woman who had booked an Uber to Kings Cross station and believed he was her driver.

Instead, Mehari took the woman – who had fallen asleep on the backseat – to a quiet side street in Kennington where he twice raped her.

Mehari, a father, denied both attacks at trial while claiming consent, but was found guilty by a jury of three counts of rape.

At the Old Bailey on Thursday, he was sentenced by Judge Rosina Cottage KC to 19 years in prison with an extra four years on licence after his release.

“Both of the victims were particularly vulnerable, each was very drunk and the CCTV images show them weaving about,” she said.

“Neither were in a position to notice the danger they were in from you.”

cctv  of Mehari was circulated by police in a bid to catch him (Metropolitan Police)
cctv of Mehari was circulated by police in a bid to catch him (Metropolitan Police)

She said the second attack involved a “significant degree of planning”, as Mehari loitered in his car waiting for a possible victim.

“You used the apparent safety of your car to make her think you were driving her to Kings Cross, rather than Kennington where you left her, alone, fearful, and without her telephone,” said the judge.

“Your attitude to the offending remains denial of any responsibility, which means you pose a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm.”

The first woman had been on a night out in South London in December 2019 when, at around 1.30am she left to go home but discovered her phone had no battery to order an Uber.

“You spotted her, and minutes later you dragged her down a pathway into Kennington Park,” said the judge.

She said glimpses of the attack were caught on CCTV, culminating in images of the woman fleeing in a state of “blind terror”.

In a victim impact statement, the woman talked about the “profound impact” on her life, and urged the judge: “Please protect other women from this man, and send a clear message to society and other men that this behaviour is abhorrent and will not be tolerated.

“Please protect women.”

Mehari was not linked to the rape despite an extensive Met Police investigation, and he struck again in March last year, picking up the second victim when she was on her way to catch a train about 3.30am.

“The thought of being alone in the dark overwhelms me,” she told the court, of the lasting impact on her life.

“I got into this man’s vehicle believing he was my booked taxi, never expecting this to happen.”

She said she had followed recommended safety steps, but was tricked by Mehari and woke up to find him on top of her in the back seat.

“Even me saying ‘you are raping me’ didn’t seem to have an effect on him,” she added. “This man had no care in the world for what I wanted. He didn’t give me a choice, I felt violated and disgusting.”

Mehari managed to evade detection in 2019 despite a police appeal for information and the release of CCTV footage. He was arrested shortly after the second attack.

The judge said Mehari, who lived in the Kennington area, must serve at least two thirds of his prison sentence before being considered for release. He will also be subject to sex offender notifications for life.