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06th Jun 2023

Fake taxi driver prowled the streets looking for women to abduct and rape

Steve Hopkins

He set out with a balaclava, latex gloves, condoms and Viagra pills

A fake taxi driver who prowled the streets looking for women to rape on their way home from nights out may have attacked other victims, police have said.

Graham Head, who kidnapped and tried to rape two women, was caught after one victim remembered three digits of his car registration.

The 66-year-old armed himself with a balaclava, latex gloves, condoms and Viagra pills and posed as a cab driver in a Mercedes to roam the streets of Brighton, East Sussex.

The first incident involved a woman in her late teens who was dragged into bushes in Hove Park by a man in the early hours of that morning on 19 August last year. She was given a lift by him earlier in the evening from Brighton city centre to Hove Park around 15 minutes away.

Head then tried to rape her while wearing a face mask, but fled the scene when the victim’s mobile phone rang, police said.

Two months later a woman in her 20s woke up in a car she thought was a taxi, to find a man sexually assaulting her. She got into what she thought was a taxi taking her from Brighton city centre to nearby Hove the evening of 17 November.

The woman managed to escape, called police at around 3.10am the next morning and was able to remember three digits of the car’s registration plate.

Minutes later, police found his silver Mercedes estate in central Brighton and he was stopped after a short chase.

Inside the vehicle, police found latex gloves, condoms, Viagra tablets and a balaclava.

A mobile phone belonging to the second victim was also found by the roadside after Head threw it out of the window during the chase.

Footage showed the first victim walking up to a silver Mercedes estate, which was then tracked through the city centre on CCTV and doorbell cameras, driving slowly along the road near Hove Park.

At Hove Crown Court last Friday, Head was found guilty of kidnap, attempted rape and assault by penetration.

He has been remanded in custody ahead of his sentencing hearing, which will take place at a date yet to be set.

Detective Constable Elliott Lander, from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, said there could be more women attacked by Head and urged potential victims to come forward.

He said after the conviction: “Graham Head is a predatory offender who gained the trust of these victims by posing as a taxi driver, only to take advantage of vulnerable women in the most abhorrent ways.

“The items found in his car show the callous, premeditated nature of his crimes as he moved through Brighton and Hove looking for potential victims.

“Thanks to the quick-thinking and bravery of these two women, we were quickly able to connect Head to both incidents and bring him to justice.

“I would like to thank them both for their support during this investigation.

“Without them, this dangerous individual could still be at large. Instead, he has been brought to justice and the streets of Brighton and Hove are safer as a result.’

Lander said police believe Head may have further victims who have not yet come forward and urged anyone who believes they may have been assaulted, or has information, to contact police.

Anyone with information is urged to contact police online or via 101, quoting Operation Cooper.

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