Fake rideshare driver jailed for sex assault on teens

Cheryl Goodenough |

A public servant sexually two teenage women while pretending to be a rideshare driver.
A public servant sexually two teenage women while pretending to be a rideshare driver.

A public servant pretending to be a rideshare driver sexually assaulted his 19-year-old passenger then pushed his way into her house.

Pratik Shah followed the woman into her bedroom, grabbed her waist, kissed her and touched her buttocks, a Brisbane court was told on Thursday.

The 45-year-old sexually assaulted the woman and another teenager weeks earlier in 2021 after picking them up in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, driving his wife’s car and displaying rideshare signage.

He stopped numerous times while driving the first teen home in the early hours of the morning, kissed her and touched her breast and genital area over her clothes.

About three weeks later he pulled up alongside the other woman in the nightclub precinct about 2am, saying he would drive her home.

He kissed her, brushed her genitals over her clothes and touched her thigh.

She tried to push Shah away, repeatedly said not to touch her and said what he was doing was sexual assault.

“Rather than desist you persisted,” Brisbane Magistrate Belinda Merrin told the married man in sentencing him.

He violated the young women when they were vulnerable and trusting he would take them home safely, 

“Instead what you did has had a profound and devastating impact on them and on their families,” Ms Merrin added.

She took into account that Shah had suffered a brain injury as a child, had ADHD and an undiagnosed major depressive disorder at the time he sexually assaulted the women.

He was also employed as a public servant, managing a carpet cleaning company and occasionally worked as a rideshare driver, although not at the time he offended.

After seeing Shah sentenced to jail, the mother of one woman said it had been a long two-and-a-half years with immense consequences for her daughter.

“My daughter has suffered severe depression, complex PTSD, all as a result of his offending,” she told reporters outside court.

“These young girls did nothing wrong,” the woman’s father said.

They were expecting a safe way home when someone masquerading as a rideshare driver preyed on them, he added.

While Shah had received a period of imprisonment, her daughter had a permanent sentence, the mother of the other woman said.

“She has forever changed.”

Shah received a head sentence of four years behind bars after pleading guilty to three counts of sexual assault and one count of burglary.

Ms Merrin ordered he be released on probation on May 8, taking into account 17 days already spent in custody.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028