A TAXI driver has been cleared of sexually assaulting a female passenger.
Ioan Sofronici was found not guilty following a three-day trial at Portsmouth Crown Court.
The allegation centred around a passenger he picked up from Portsmouth and took to Hayling Island in spring last year.
Mr Sofronici, 26, of Bramble Road, Southsea, told jurors he had consensual sexual activity with the woman in his white Andi Cars taxi.
Giving evidence, he said there was a ‘sexual chemistry’ between him and the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, who he said left his car on ‘good terms’.
In his police interview he said nothing at all had happened – but then told jurors he lied as he feared his wife would find out he had kissed and had sexual activity with the woman.
In the witness box he said they had agreed to meet up the next day as they did not have sex in the taxi because they had no protection.
He said the passenger had been ‘flirtatious’, that they kissed and there was sexual activity after arriving in Hayling Island, and that he asked her to perform a sex act on him when he drove a short way away from the house.
But he said she declined and then he drove her back.
He said: ‘When they interviewed me I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. I was in shock, panicking, thinking about my marriage.’
Talking about lying over the consensual acts he said: ‘I was lying about it because I was so scared that my wife could find out.
‘I just wanted the nightmare to end, but I know my mistake was I didn’t tell the truth to the police the first time.’
During the trial he said he stopped working at the Havant-based taxi firm following the accusation and was now an Amazon delivery driver.