A TAXI driver took advantage of a drunk passenger on Christmas Eve, a court has heard.

Arfan Ali is on trial at Teesside Crown Court where he is accused of a sexual offence against the woman.

The 28-year-old driver, from Middlesbrough, denies there was anything untoward, and any contact between the pair was consensual.

The passenger was aged 19 at the time, a jury was told, and the Crown Prosecution Service say she had touched him intimately on her journey home from a night out in Yarm.

The court was told yesterday that she sent him a text message – although there is some dispute about how their numbers came to be exchanged – the following day to thank him for being a “gentleman”.

The jury heard how the 19-year-old was put into a taxi by friends who were “concerned” about the state she was in on December 24, 2017.

Prosecutor Shaun Dodds said the university student was put into Mr Ali’s cab in the early hours, and a friend told the driver an address to take her to.

Later that day, she received a text from a mobile number that had been saved into her phone, saying “good afternoon, you ok? xx”.

The court heard the young woman had no idea who the message was from, and asked for more information.

The prosecution also said that Mr Ali told her he had driven her home and that, “you were upset about something, you touched me a few times” and said: “You tried to get my trousers off, but I stopped you.”

The jury heard that Mr Ali, of Marton Road, said he was sending messages because he promised to contact the student when she was sober. In a reply, the woman said: “I’m panicking, but also finding this funny.” She said she was “mortified, but bad laughing”.

The jury was told by Mr Dodds that she was originally grateful to Mr Ali for getting her home safely after he told her he did not touch her. She also wanted to add him to her “friends” on social media, so she could see a picture of him, and thought he was a “genuine lad”.

The court heard that Mr Ali continued to contact her regularly, but the woman slowly wanted to distance herself from him.

She got more worried when she found scratches and bruises on her arms and legs and felt a “soreness”, so contacted NHS Direct, who advised her to go to the police.

The jury was told Mr Ali’s DNA was found on the student’s underwear, but his barrister, Glenn Gatland, said she had rubbed his leg on the journey.

The case continues.