- Scroll down to read the victim’s story and how the trial unfolded
Wollongong taxi driver Zejadin Ganiji has spent his first night behind bars after being convicted of the degrading rape of a female passenger while driving her home from a night out in February last year.
A 12-person jury found the married father-of-two guilty of sexually assaulting the woman following a five-day trial in Wollongong District Court in which the victim said Ganiji forced her to perform oral sex on him inside the cab after picking her up from a Corrimal bus stop in the early hours of the morning.
"I was scared and alone....I didn’t want to do it. I was devastated this was happening to me."- Zejadin Ganiji's victim
“He put his arm around me and pulled my head down towards his penis and said ‘suck it’,” she told the court while giving evidence last week, saying she complied with the request as she was afraid of what might happen if she refused.
“I was scared and alone,” she said.
“I didn’t want to do it. I was devastated this was happening to me.”
Ganiji denied the accusations. He initially told police nothing sexual had occurred between the pair and tried to discredit her by calling her a “a nut job” and suggesting she “must have been on some really hard drugs” to come up with such a story.
However in court last week, Ganiji admitted he had lied to officers when giving his initial statement. He conceded there had been oral sex between he and the victim, but claimed it had been a consensual act, initiated by her, as way of payment for the taxi ride home.
“She offered it, I accepted it,” he repeatedly said.
He told the court he lied to police during his interview as he was worried his wife would find out he’d been unfaithful.
However, the jury ultimately failed to believe Ganiji’s version of events and took just over a day to return the guilty verdict.
Ganiji hung his head and quietly shook it from side to side as the verdict was read out, while his family let out an audible cry of shock.
Ganiji was found not guilty of a further charge of indecent assault, relating to allegations he pulled the victim’s top down and squeezed her nipples while stopped at a park at Sandon Point.
Meantime, Ganiji’s family sobbed as Crown prosecutor Jot Mehta successfully sought to have Ganiji’s bail revoked.
He will return to court for sentencing on December 8.
‘It’s been a trial and a tribulation for me’
A Wollongong mother-of-two has expressed relief that her rapist will be punished for his crime.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she has spent the 18 months since the attack ‘’in purgatory’’.
The trial of her attacker Zejadin Ganiji took its toll too, but she said the guilty verdict on Tuesday has made her decision to speak up worthwhile. ‘’I feel relieved and proud and happy,’’ she said.
‘’It’s been a trial and a tribulation for me … although I was a victim, it sometimes felt like I was the one on trial.
‘’But I spoke up because I wanted the women of the Illawarra to be aware that they can make a stand.
‘’And I wanted to do all I could to make sure that it didn’t happen to any other women, that it didn’t happen to my own daughters.’’
The woman said she has suffered from depression and anxiety since the attack last February.
‘’I have been scared every time I hear a car go past because I think it’s a taxi – I think they’re all looking at me,’’ she said. ‘’It’s been very traumatic.’’
She said while justice had prevailed, her suffering would endure.
‘’You see signs saying ‘take the safe way home, take a taxi’,’’ she said. ‘’But I wasn’t safe. I have two daughters who I will one day want to take a taxi, rather than drink drive.
‘’But they have some idea of what happened to me, and they’re going to be forever terrified of getting a taxi. So while this is a good outcome, I’m still suffering and so are those close to me.’’
She urged women to be mindful of their safety. ‘’I’ve had a horrible time thinking about what happened and what I could have done differently … but I did what I did to save my own life so I could make it home to see my children.’’