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Fake Uber driver jailed for picking up and sexually assaulting women

A man who lurked outside Melbourne night spots pretending to be an Uber driver to pick up and sexually assault three young women will be locked up for at least six years.

Photo: EPA/Will Oliver

Photo: EPA/Will Oliver

Francesco De Luise, 60, faced Melbourne’s County Court on Thursday after pleading guilty to six sex offences, including rape, sexual assault and sexual activity directed at another person.

Between 2021 and 2022, the former supermarket boss picked up three women on three separate occasions, all of whom had been out drinking in Melbourne.

Each of his victims were stuck with him in the passenger seat of his car when he began to sexually assault them.

One of the women stood before the court on Tuesday and said she thought she was going to die when she realised De Luise was not her Uber driver.

“It’s something no person should ever have to experience,” she said, between tears.

De Luise claimed his life had spiralled after investing in a $6 million property scheme, which collapsed during COVID-19, when he offended.

But he lied to police when interviewed and said the women were interested in him, which Judge John Smallwood labelled as victim blaming.

De Luise sat silently in the court dock as Judge Smallwood sentenced him.

“This is an exercise in male entitlement and has to be absolutely condemned as such,” he told De Luise.

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“There needs to be appropriate punishment.”

The judge said De Luise’s offending was made more serious by the “sheer vulnerability and powerlessness” of the three women, each of whom were stuck in a situation they could not escape from.

“Each of the victims was alone, each of the victims was intoxicated and effectively in circumstances where they found themselves trapped,” he said.

Judge Smallwood handed De Luise a maximum eight-and-a-half year sentence, and he will be eligible for parole after six years.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

– AAP

Topics: rape, uber
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