A taxi driver who harassed British socialite Jemima Khan for more than year has been sentenced to eight weeks in prison.
Hassan Mahhmood, a Pakistani-origin cabbie, admitted to bombarding the 43-year-old heiress with thousands of phone calls, texts, what’s app messages, but denied stalking her.
Mahhmood first met Jemima on 16 June 2016 when he drove her and some friends home after a night out. He told her he was a huge fan of hers and asked if she would allow him to take a selfie with her. Jemima innocently agreed but it was from this point that her ordeal began.
Jemima had hailed the black cab that night using a phone app called ‘Hailo’ and hence Mahhmood had got hold of her private mobile number. Days later he began calling Jemima. Over a period of about a year, the 27-year-old taxi driver from Walthamstow in east London, called Jemima 1,182 times, sent her 203 texts and “loads” of what’s app message using 18 different mobile phones.
Initially Mahhmood told Jemima that he had become a fan when she married Pakistani cricket legend Imran Khan whom he hero-worshiped. Mahhmood would call Jemima “Bhabhi”, the Urdu word for sister-in-law, but slowly his calls and messages became more personal.
Mahhmood told Jemima that he ‘loved her’, ‘wanted to know her’, and asked her ‘why he could not be friends with her’. “He was totally obsessed with her and wanted to meet her, to the extent the last two text messages in July 2017 consisted of him wanting to come and visit her. The fear of that finally prompted her to go to the police. It was her sheer kindness that stopped her from reporting him in the first instance” Ruxana Nasser, the prosecutor told Isleworth Crown Court in west London.
In her victim impact statement Jemima said: “The incident has made me incredibly anxious at times. I would be home alone and he would call me several times and text repeatedly late at night. Sometimes he would send texts saying he would come to my house. That really frightened me”. Jemima has been living alone ever since her divorce from Imran Khan in 2004 with whom she has two sons.
“I feel extremely vulnerable and scared as a single woman. As a result I’m planning to move house. He seems to have become increasingly unstable and unpredictable,” said Jemima in her statement. Jemima is the daughter of the late billionaire entrepreneur Sir James Goldsmith and sister of Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith who ran for the post of Mayor of London and lost to current mayor Sadiq Khan.
Mahhmood’s lawyer, Umar Ali defended his client arguing that “none of the messages were of a threatening nature”, and he denied stalking Jemima but admitted to ‘harassment without violence’. He also told the court that Mahhmood’s own marriage had broken down over the last year and he was suffering from depression.
While indicting Mahhmood, Judge Martin Edmunds QC said: “His behavior – abusing his position as a cab driver to obtain the telephone number of a client, then contacting her with enormous persistence and using multiple telephone numbers over the course of a year leads me to be deeply concerned over the level of obsessive behavior”.
He awarded Mahhmood eight weeks in prison and a suspended sentence for 18 month on good behavior. If during that time Mahhmood commits any crime he will go straight to jail. He will have to do 120 hours of unpaid community service, his taxi driving licence has been revoked and he has a five-year restraining order stopping him from contacting Jemima.