Cold case catches Luton rapist - but police fear there may be more victims of the taxi driver

'This was a predatory attack by a man who purported to be in a position of trust'

Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 10:17 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 12:49 pm

A Luton man who posed as a taxi driver to kidnap and rape a woman 28 years ago, has been jailed for 13 years.

And police have raised concerns that he might have used his position after later becoming an official taxi driver, to attack again.

Zahid Majeed, 54, of Wardown Crescent, was finally caught after his DNA was matched to the crime – despite almost three decades having passed.

Zaheed Majeed - there are fears he may have carried out more attacks

In the early hours of November 13, 1993, the victim left the town’s Coliseum nightclub. She got into a vehicle, believing it to be a taxi, and asked to be taken to an address. She began to become suspicious when Majeed, the driver, said he was unsure of the location and stopped the vehicle to read a map.

He started to drive off again but a short time later, stopped the car and turned the lights off.

When the victim asked where they were, Majeed became aggressive and abusive before driving to a remote location off Hitchin Road where he raped her.

Following the attack, he drove to some nearby houses and dropped off the woman, who subsequently contacted the police.

Despite enquiries at the time, insufficient evidence meant Majeed was able to evade justice, however DNA evidence linked to the case remained on file in case there should be a match in the future.

Almost 30 years later, Majeed was traced through work carried out under Operation Painter, a review of undetected rapes and sexual offences which occurred between 1974 and 1999.

The Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Cold Case Unit reopened the investigation and Majeed – who went on to work as an official taxi driver – was later arrested and subsequently charged.

The victim and witnesses from the earlier investigation were located and further statements obtained.

Following a three-day trial in September at Luton Crown Court, Majeed was found guilty of kidnap and rape, with the jury returning a unanimous verdict after just 90 minutes of deliberation. Just before Christmas, he was sentenced to 13 years for rape, and three years for the kidnap to run concurrently.

Detective Constable Hayley Dyas said: “This was a predatory attack by a man who purported to be in a position of trust, but instead chose to viciously assault a vulnerable woman.

“Majeed was able to continue living in freedom for years while his victim suffered from the lasting effects of such a horrific incident, and I can only hope that his conviction brings her some comfort. He thought he was above the law but we will do all we can to bring perpetrators to justice; this should send a clear warning that such behaviour is unacceptable and we will come after you.

“The fact that Majeed went on to work in the taxi industry is alarming; his use of this persona to commit an atrocious offence means it is possible he offended again.

“If anyone has been a victim of a similar offence, I would encourage them to come forward and report what happened. We can support you, and this investigation goes to prove that there is no time limit on getting justice.”

Detective Chief Inspector Dani Bailey added: “This is the latest successful conviction under Operation Painter and our specialist detectives will continue to utilise scientific advancements and developments in forensic science to review cases such as this and ensure sexual predators are brought to justice.”

Victims of rape and sexual assault can receive support and guidance from Bedfordshire Police and its partner agencies including the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), as well as support through the criminal investigation process, regardless of how long ago the offence occurred.

If you have been a victim of sexual assault, reports can be made to police on 101. You can also contact the Sexual Assault Referral Centre through the Emerald Centre, by visiting www.emeraldcentre.org, emailing [email protected] or calling 01234 842750.

Always call 999 in an emergency.