Fake taxi driver jailed for Kirkcaldy rape and abduction

Abel Muntean, left, and Raul Novac.
Abel Muntean, left, and Raul Novac.

A teenage rapist who posed as a taxi driver to snare a young woman in Kirkcaldy who was subjected to sex attacks was today jailed for 10 years.

Abel Muntean (19) picked up the woman on New Year’s Day morning in Kirkcaldy, and abducted and raped her before delivering her to a house where his accomplice Raul Novac subjected her to a further rape ordeal.

Romanian Novac (34) was also jailed for five years after he was convicted of the sex attack following a trial in which the pair had denied raping the woman who was intoxicated and incapable of giving consent.

He was sentenced to a further two years and three months after fleeing justice and failing to appear in court at an earlier scheduled hearing.

A judge told Muntean at the High Court in Edinburgh: “You were convicted by the jury of shocking, predatory and outrageous criminal conduct consisting of the abduction and two rapes of the same 18-year-old woman who was unknown to you.”

“You waited in your car outside a nightclub in Kirkcaldy in the early hours of New Years Day 2017 as it was emptying, flashed your car lights to draw her attention to you, pretended to her that your vehicle was a taxi and that you were a taxi driver and so induced her to enter your car,” he said.

“You then abducted her in the car, drove to the Esplanade at Kirkcaldy, removed her dress and raped her while she was intoxicated with alcohol and incapable of giving or withholding consent,”

“You thereafter took her to the house of your co-accused and provided her to him so that he could rape her. In other words you used her as an object for your own sexual gratification and that of your co-accused,” said the judge.

Lord Uist said: “As a result she has suffered permanent mental and emotional effects. Your behaviour towards her, which was obviously premeditated, can be described only as unspeakably wicked and wholly callous.”

The judge pointed out that Muntean has continued to deny the offences and shown no remorse. He said the teenage rapist posed a significant risk of further re-offending.

Lord Uist said he took into account Muntean’s age and lack of criminal record, but added: “On the other hand the crimes of which you were convicted are of such a grave nature that a very lengthy period in custody must be the outcome in order to punish you, deter you and others from committing such crimes and for the protection of the female public from harm from men such as you.”

He told Novac: “Your commission of this offence has been described as opportunistic, but you also have continued to deny your guilt and shown no remorse.”

The judge said that Novac’s decision to become a fugitive from justice, fleeing to Romania and then moving to Ireland, had resulted in considerable public expense with a European Arrest Warrant issued.

He told the two Romanians: “In the case of each of you it will be a matter for the Home Secretary to decide whether you should be deported on completion of your sentences.”

Muntean, who was 17 at the time, pretended to the woman at Hunter Street, in Kirkcaldy, on January 1 in 2017 that the car he had was a taxi and he was a cab driver and induced her to enter the vehicle before driving off and raping her.

Muntean then drove her to a house in the town’s Nelson Street where Novac also raped the woman, who had been reported as a missing person.

The woman, now 20, told their earlier trial that she had gone out for New Years Eve with others after drinking and was planning to go clubbing.

She went to a colleague’s home to get ready to go out and more alcohol was purchased.

The woman said that by the time they were ready to head out she was drunk. She had more vodkas at a club before she was asked to leave.

She said she told the bouncers that she needed to get her friends and let them know and added: “They wouldn’t let me back in. They wouldn’t get them either.”

She said she did not have credit on her phone and could not get in touch with anyone. She planned to get a taxi to take her to a relative’s home.

The woman said: “I can remember walking down the street a wee bit. I remember I was really drunk.” She borrowed another woman’s phone and tried to call for a cab.

“There was lots of taxis about. I thought one of them is bound to be able to take me.” she said. Those she approached were booked or waiting for someone.

She told the court: “Then I saw someone getting into a car that looked like a taxi. I opened the door and asked ‘could you take me home?’ He said ‘yes’.” She said it looked like there was a meter.

“I asked him if he was a taxi and he could take me home and he said ‘yes’,”, she said. She said he pulled out a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and asked her if she wanted a drink.

The woman said she took a drink and added: “I can’t remember anything after that.”

She said her next memory was waking up naked in a bed in a strange house. She said: “My body was in agony.”

Muntean, of Dornoch Place, Glenrothes, and father-of-three Novac had earlier denied the attacks but were found guilty.

Defence solicitor advocate Iain Paterson argued that Muntean’s sentence should be reduced significantly because of his age and status as a child at the time of the crimes.

Lord Uist said: “In a sense it is all the more alarming that someone of his age should commit such serious crimes.”

The judge also pointed out that Muntean was a child who held a driving licence and could have got married without parental consent at the time.

Both Muntean and Novac were placed on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.

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