A TAXI driver allegedly sexually attacked a lone teenage passenger in the early hours, as he drove her home from her 18th birthday celebrations, a jury was told.

Mazar Sharif, 45, was said to have put his arm around the alleged victim's shoulder, placed his hand on her bare leg and tried to kiss her after he pulled his cab over for the second time during the journey.

Sharif had already stopped once, invited the teenager to sit in the front with him and had asked if she had a boyfriend, Burnley Crown Court heard.

The hearing heard the girl's mother later heard her sobbing in bed, but she did not tell her until the next evening and the police were called.

Sharif was questioned and denied the alleged incident. The defendant, of Bankhouse Road, Nelson, who was working for Prince or A and B Taxis, in Burnley, pleads not guilty to sexual assault, said to have taken place last autumn.

David Traynor, prosecuting, said the alleged victim was walking along St James Street, Burnley, when a taxi stopped and the driver asked: “Are you not going to ask me how much it is for a taxi home?” She asked him how much it would be, he told her £5 and she got in.

She sat in the back of the minibus. After a short distance, he pulled up and allegedly said: “Why are you sitting in the back?” She declined to sit in the front.

Mr Traynor said Sharif was asking personal questions.

Two or three streets from her home, the cab again pulled over.

The prosecutor said: “She says the defendant leaned into the taxi, placed one arm around her shoulder, placed his hand upon her bare leg and tried to kiss her. She backed away from him as she did not want that to happen. He then backed away and that enabled her to leave the taxi. He got in the driver's seat and drove quickly away.”

The prosecutor said Sharif claimed the taxi stopped because the alleged victim asked him to. She wanted to walk the last bit to clear her head. He said he had opened the door, realised she was upset and just put his arm around her in a comforting gesture.

Mr Traynor said: “He said he had no intention to touch her in a sexual way. He denied any of the incident as alleged, in the back seat of the taxi.”