"It basically came to me that this is a grooming case, that someone groomed her over the internet."
A British Asian taxi driver received praise after he saved a 13-year-old girl from a paedophile. He even received a certificate for his outstanding efforts.
On 20th February 2017, Satbir Arora picked up the youngster from her home in Oxfordshire. The taxi was booked to take her all the way to Gloucester train station.
During the travel, she initially told him she was going to a birthday party. However, she had actually planned to meet a 24-year-old man named Sam Hewings, who groomed her online.
The taxi arrived at the destination, yet Satbir grew concerned as no one was there to meet her. He decided to ask her for more information and if her parents knew of her location. However, the 13-year-old, who wore a school uniform, refused to answer his questions.
Satbir then rang his wife for advice on the situation. She spoke with the child on the phone, who revealed to her that her parents didn’t know where she was.
Next, the driver attempted to call the individual the 13-year-old arranged to meet with. He recorded the conversations on his phone, later used as evidence. The British Asian man explained:
“It basically came to me that this is a grooming case, that someone groomed her over the internet.”
While Satbir alerted a nearby officer at the train station, his wife also called authorities. Police arrested Sam Hewings, as they discovered he had made the taxi booking and planned to abduct his victim once they met.
Upon investigations, officers found that he discussed of kidnapping, sedating and raping a victim in online forums. At his property, they recovered a bag containing knives, duct tape and co-codamol tablets.
The 24-year-old was sentenced to five years in jail, after pleading guilty to attempted abduction, as well as distribution and making of indecent images.
Since the incident, Cherwell District Council awarded Satbir, presenting him with a certificate of outstanding achievement. Keiran Mallon, the district council’s lead member for public protection said:
“This shocking case reinforces the importance of the safeguarding training we provide to our taxi drivers.”
Just months beforehand, Satbir had received safeguarding training, which he explained helped with the situation. He said: “The training was really useful. Because of the cases we read about on the safeguarding course I was able to recognise the signs and quickly spot that it was a grooming case.”
The driver also added: “I just think, thank god that girl was saved. It could have been my daughter getting into something like that online. This is just a realisation for everyone to be alert.”
With Hewings sentence delivered, he will begin his five-year jail sentence.