Southampton man jailed for seven and a half years for raping a woman in his van
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A 23-year-old woman who was subjected to a horrific attack in the back of a van on July 22, 2018, finally has justice for what happened to her following a three week trial at Southampton Crown Court.
The woman, a 23-year-old from Southampton, reported the incident to police on the morning of July 22, 2018 after the man, Shafiullah Zahid, lured her into his van on the pretence he was being a good Samaritan offering her a lift home after she had been on a night out. What followed was a police investigation by the Amberstone team based at Southampton Central Police Station.
Over the last three weeks, the court has heard how the woman was on a night out with friends in Southampton, and after becoming separated and unable to get home with no money left and fading battery on her phone, she found herself walking home on her own.
She knew she had had quite a bit to drink as she remembers stopping every now and again to sit down, at times struggling to walk. When she reached Northam Road she remembers a man in a white van stopping and asking her something.
That man was Shafiullah Zahid, aged 33 of Sirdar Road, Southampton. Zahid had been on a night out himself, but in the early hours of July 22 he made the decision to drive around Southampton. Spotting the woman on her own, and probably seeing her struggling, he offered her a lift home.
Accepting his offer of a lift home, the woman recalls asking for a phone charger as soon as she entered Zahid’s van because her battery on her mobile was low.
In the report she made to the police, she recalls becoming immediately aware of the danger she might be in, so she text her friend.
The next thing the woman knew was that she was being driven to an unknown location before being made to get in the back of Zahid’s van. Zahid then repeatedly raped her.
After the ordeal, the woman told Zahid to drive her home. He tried to get her to stay longer with him, in his van, but she said she wanted to go, she wanted to get out of there and she didn’t know where she was. The woman got Zahid to drop her close to her home address but not so close he would know where she lived.
Immediately before getting out of the van, Zahid asked her if she wanted his telephone number. She did not want his number, but he was acting like he had done nothing wrong. In order to get out of the van she accepted his number which Zahid put in her phone. As soon as she got home she disclosed what happened to her and a report to the police was made.
Detective Constable Sue Hampton investigated the woman’s case and quickly identified Shafiullah Zahid as a suspect.
DC Sue Hampton said: “Zahid was identified as a suspect following the mobile number provided to the woman, this helped us enormously in being able to identify Zahid , before DNA analysis confirmed it was him."
Following a three week trial at Southampton Crown Court, yesterday (February 9) a jury found Zahid guilty of two counts of rape.
Detective Constable Sue Hampton said: “I would like to commend the woman’s courage for doing what she did and reporting the incident to the police. With her help, we have been able to identify a man who’s behaviour we can only describe as predatory.
“From the start, Zahid completely disregarded his crime and at no point has he considered the impact he has had on this woman.
“We want to show you that no matter the circumstances, Hampshire Constabulary is committed to supporting survivors of rape and sexual assault and we will do everything we can to identify offenders and put them in front of a court.”
Yesterday (February 9) Zahid was jailed for seven and a half years for each count of rape, to run concurrently.
If you’ve been the victim, please report rape or sexual assault as soon as possible. Even if you’re not 100 per cent sure, we’d sooner hear from you so that we can make sure you’re safe. If you’re not ready to talk to the police just yet, that’s OK. There are a range of places to get support, advice and medical help.
You can speak to a number of organisations in confidence and what you tell them won't be shared with the police unless you ask for it to be.