‘Uber driver’ claims women wanted to see his excess skin

 

Claims by five women that they were sexually assaulted by a man who made them touch his excess skin and penis are "so similar" they must be true, a court has heard.

Sampath Sandaruwan Samaranayake, 44, is accused of sexually assaulting the women while posing as an Uber driver in September 2018.

Each of the women allege that Mr Samaranayake picked them up from Fortitude Valley and made them touch his "excess skin" and penis after he told them about his weight struggles.

He also allegedly touched some of the women on their breasts.

Prosecutor Sandra Cupina told a Brisbane District Court jury that the consistency of his "modus operandi" made it implausible that the accounts were not accurate.

 

Sampath Samaranayake pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting the five young women. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Sampath Samaranayake pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting the five young women. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

 

"None of these five women know one another," Ms Cupina said during her closing submissions on Wednesday.

"And their descriptions of what happened are so similar … It can't be a coincidence."

Mr Samaranayake in on trial after pleading not guilty to 18 offences including multiple charges of sexual assault, common assault and deprivation of liberty.

The Carindale father-of-two gave evidence on Wednesday, admitting he had driven each of the women home but said he never forced them to touch him and had never prevented them from leaving his black SUV.

"They can open the door and can walk away anytime," Mr Samaranayake said.

"Everything happened in front of their home. If I was a bad guy … I can drive them anywhere, I can take them to the bush to a thousand places."

He claimed one of the women had a consensual sexual encounter with him but denied any other sexual allegations took place.

The court heard that Mr Samaranayake, who was born in Sri Lanka, was employed as a chef at Mansfield Tavern and had applied to become an Uber driver because he had "financial troubles".

But he was unable to become a driver because his Land Rover was a 2007 model, which was too old to be registered under the rideshare company's minimum vehicle requirements.

Despite not being registered with a rideshare company, Mr Samaranayake said he would drive to Fortitude Valley to get cash fares but denied that he told the women he worked for Uber.

 

Sampath Samaranayake took the stand to deny allegations he sexually assaulted the women. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Sampath Samaranayake took the stand to deny allegations he sexually assaulted the women. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

 

During his evidence Mr Samaranayake admitted that he had told the women about his weight struggles and how he needed $25,000 for surgery to remove his loose skin.

He alleged that each of the women had responded by sharing their own personal stories, telling the court one of the girls sang three songs to him and another cried and hugged him three times before leaving his car.

He said the women had voluntarily touched his stomach - a claim Ms Cupina suggested was ridiculous.

"My suggestion is none of these women wanted to see your skin, you forced them all to either look at your skin … and touch your skin," Ms Cupina said.

During the trial each of the five women gave evidence in closed court and a police computer examiner testified that Mr Samaranayake's iPhone showed he had been to each of the complainant's addresses.

In closing submissions, barrister Peter Nolan argued that none of the women had been detained but they had mistakenly felt trapped because they were panicked.

He said while some of Mr Samaranayake's actions might have been a "bit odd" it did not make him guilty.

"He obviously had issues that caused him to act in a way that you might find a bit odd or bizarre, but that doesn't mean he is criminal," Mr Nolan said.

Judge Tony Moynihan QC sent the jury away to deliberate this afternoon.

Originally published as 'Uber driver' claims women wanted to see his excess skin



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