Judge Condemns Online Mocking and Sentences Imposter Uber Driver for Sexual Assault of Woman Leaving Friend’s Birthday in Collingwood

A judge strongly criticized the mocking and taunting of a young woman online following her sexual assault, describing it as a form of emotional rape. The victim, then 19 years old, was raped and sexually assaulted by a man posing as a rideshare driver. The incident occurred after he offered her a free Uber ride outside a Collingwood nightclub where she had been celebrating a friend’s birthday. The perpetrator, Abdouslam Alsharif, a 50-year-old father-of-five, took advantage of the victim by locking the car doors and driving to a secluded street, where he carried out a predatory and deliberate attack. Despite her repeated protests and pleas to stop, Alsharif sexually assaulted her in the car. The victim blacked out and later woke up to find him raping her.

The victim managed to send her location to a friend through Facebook, which was then relayed to the police. They found her in a nearby street where Alsharif had left her. Following the assault, the victim underwent two years of intensive trauma-based therapy, including a three-week stay in a psychiatric ward. She expressed her belief that she may never fully recover from the incident, lamenting the loss of who she used to be.

In addition to the trauma, the victim was further distressed by cruel comments on social media and websites, with some blaming her for the assault and even creating a meme about it. County Court Judge Liz Gaynor, in sentencing Alsharif to seven years in prison, criticized the online commentators, stating that their actions amounted to emotional rape and significantly worsened the suffering of the already traumatized victim. Judge Gaynor emphasized that such an assault could have happened to anyone’s sister, daughter, or partner.

During the court proceedings, it was revealed that Alsharif had come to Australia as a refugee from Libya in 2014. He had previously been studying for a PhD in biology on a scholarship, but due to the fall of the Gaddafi regime, his funding was terminated, and his family faced persecution. Alsharif became an Australian citizen in 2015 and, due to limited English proficiency, could only secure low-paying research assistant jobs. He turned to rideshare driving to make ends meet.

Although Alsharif experienced trauma from his family’s persecution, there was no proven link between his psychological state and his criminal behavior. Judge Gaynor criticized the sense of entitlement exhibited by some men who inflict sexual assaults as a means to alleviate their own emotional anguish. She stressed that the entitlement should belong to young women and all rideshare passengers, emphasizing their right to a safe journey free from predatory sexual attacks, which have a devastating impact on every aspect of their lives. Alsharif will be eligible for parole after serving four-and-a-half years of his prison sentence.


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