> Victim-survivor expresses distress as fake Wollongong Uber driver who confessed to molesting two women is spared jail time

Victim-survivor expresses distress as fake Wollongong Uber driver who confessed to molesting two women is spared jail time

Fake ride-share driver Kais Dahdal has been spared jail time in Wollongong Local Court after molesting two women.

The 35-year-old doctor from Syria was sentenced to a seven-month intensive corrections order for two counts of sexually touching without consent.

He was also fined $350 for not having a licence.

‘Destroyed inside’

Dahdal sat quietly in the court room on Tuesday with his wife by his side and with the assistance of a translator.

One of his victims Ashleigh Rauicava was also in court for the sentence and was visibly distressed as it was read out.

“Absolute bullshit, he gets to walk free and live his life like he has done nothing wrong [and] get counselling, the rest of us are going through therapy now,” Mr Rauicava said outside the court.

“It’s not right.”

Ms Rauicava was one of two women Dahdal had picked up on October 23 last year while falsely claiming to be an Uber driver.

She had offered to pay for her fair with cash or direct debit, he told her her app was broken and touched her inner thigh and told her she could instead pay in sex.

She fled the car as soon as she could and went home.

Dahdal committed a similar act on another woman that night.

Man walks with brief case and second man holds umbrella over his head
Kais Dahdal leaves Wollongong Local Court shielding himself with an umbrella following his defence lawyer and wife.(ABC Illawarra: Kelly Fuller)

In sentencing, Magistrate Claire Girotto said people were entitled to feel safe when being conveyed by a taxi or Uber.

“Both of these girls were at least moderately affected by alcohol, now the whole point of Uber drivers and taxis is that you have a safe passage home,” Magistrate Girotto said.

“So in some ways, it was a breach of trust of the position that he purported.”

She noted that Dahdal had no criminal history but said as a doctor in Syria he was dealing with “high levels of trauma, child sexual assault and serious injuries”.

She said he had feelings of “self-worthlessness” because he had not been able to practice as a doctor.

The Magistrate referred to a mental health report that showed he was “highly anxious, with an inability to recognise verbal and non-verbal cues”.

She said Dahdal had received intense media scrutiny and had probably also lost his ability to practice medicine, which had been considered in the sentence.

She also acknowledged the profound impact on the victims and said Dahdal had written a letter to the court expressing his “deep remorse” to the victims, community and his wife.

His commitment to ongoing rehabilitation was also taken into consideration in the decision to impose the intensive corrections order. Dahdal will serve the order in the community under strict supervision.

‘He lured us in’

Ms Rauicava was supported by a friend outside the court and was shaking and holding back tears as she talked about the decision.

“I just wanted to stand up for all of us women who have been through this,” she said.

“He spends seven months getting rehabilitation and that is it, no jail — nothing. He just gets to live his beautiful life with his wife and be happy.”

Ms Rauicava said despite Dahdal’s letter to the court he had shown no remorse directly to the victims.

“They said that he did an apology letter to the court — what about us?” she said.

“What about the women you have destroyed that go to bed every single night absolutely terrified, things play over in my head over and over again.

“It’s not Uber’s fault, there are a lot of lovely people out there who do it for a living but he was not an Uber, he was a man pretending to be and that is predatory he lured us in.”

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