‘Uber driver’ denies sexually assaulting five women
A man who claimed to be an Uber driver allegedly sexually assaulted five women he picked up in Brisbane's inner-city making the women touch his "excess skin" and penis, a court has heard.
Sampath Sandaruwan Samaranayake, 44, faced Brisbane District Court on Monday where he pleaded not guilty to 19 offences including sexual assault, indecent act with intent to insult or offend, deprivation of liberty and common assault.
The court was told that Mr Samaranayake allegedly assaulted each of the women after offering them lifts home from Fortitude Valley over two weeks in September 2018.
Prosecutor Sandra Cupina told the court that the first woman Mr Samaranayake approached was standing outside a Wickham St bar with a phone in her hand about 2.45am on September 2, 2018.
Ms Cupina said he called out to her "Are you ordering an Uber, I just had someone cancel".
When she got into his black SUV, Mr Samaranayake allegedly told her his Uber application was broken but he would accept cash.
As he drove her home, the driver allegedly told her about how he had excess skin on his body after losing weight and that she was a "very nice girl who was making him feel things down there".
"Things were getting more uncomfortable and sexual …. when this driver suddenly grabbed her by the wrist and put her hand on top of his penis and said 'see it's hard'," Ms Cupina said.
Ms Cupina told the court Mr Samaranayake then stopped her from leaving the car and showed her a "live video of a woman exposing her breasts".
"You'll hear she was frozen and at this point the driver touched her on the breast and kissed her on the neck," Ms Cupina said.
"He did unlock the car as she got out. She went inside the house and she called the police."
Over the next two weeks, four other women allegedly had similar interactions with Mr Samaranayake.
The court was told that another woman was sexually assaulted after Mr Samaranayake insisted she turn on her phone light and look at the loose skin on his stomach.
"When she looked over he had his pants down and had his penis exposed," Ms Cupina said.
"She said 'I want to leave' and tried to open the door of the car and she couldn't get out of the car.
"You'll hear that what this driver did then was grab her hand and put it on his penis and masturbate himself while holding her hand with force and he ejaculated on her hand. He touched her breast and then he let her leave the car."
The court heard that Mr Samaranayake will argue that some of the acts were consensual but deny that other counts ever occurred.
Mr Samaranayake is being represented by barrister Peter Nolan, who did not make an opening statement to the jury.
The trial continues before Judge Tony Moynihan QC.
Originally published as 'Uber driver' denies sexually assaulting five women