A PIZZA shop driver tried to take advantage when he realised three teenage girls at a house he was delivering to were on their own, a court heard.

Mohammed Shahab Mahboubian was yesterday (Tuesday May 10) given a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence after admitting sexually assaulting one of the girls, who he was said to have virtually “abducted”.

Durham Crown Court heard the 37-year-old returned with a further delivery and repeatedly knocked at the door, asking to come in for a slice of pizza.

After two of the girls eventually came out, he urged one to “come for a ride in my car.” The court was told he added: “If you don’t come for a ride, I’ll hurt you.”

Mahboubian, of Spennymoor, County Durham, told her he was only going to drive up and down but when she got in, asked her age.

Robin Turton, prosecuting, said when she replied she was 15, he told her she was too young for sex.

He asked other questions, including where she lived, as he drove to a remote spot where he forced her to kiss him.

Mr Turton said Mahboubian also indecently touched the girl, who later said she did not want anything to happen, but “froze”.

She eventually told him her friends would be wondering what was happening to her, so he drove back to the house and dropped her off.

One of the girl’s friends rang to tell her grandmother and police were alerted.

Mahboubian was arrested that night and would not confirm whether sexual contact had taken place.

Mr Turton said all three girls at the house picked him out in an identification parade but he made a prepared statement in which he denied it, despite a neighbour saying she saw the girl getting in his car.

Mahboubian, 37, of North Drive, Spennymoor, previously denied two counts of sexual assault and one of rape on November 29.

But, on the day his trial, Mahboubian admitted the two counts of sexual assault, and the prosecution agreed to leave the rape charge to “lie on the file”.

Glenn Carrasco, mitigating, said the Iranian-born defendant, who is of previous good character, has worked for five years since coming to Britain, and has settled here with his family.

He added it was not a planned offence, and Mahboubian did drop the girl back home after the incident.

Jailing him, Judge Christopher Prince said the defendant tried to take advantage when he realised no adults were present, before, “effectively” abducting the girl.

He made Mahboubian subject of sex offenders’ registration for life and a sexual harm prevention order, “until further order”.