A taxi driver raped a female passenger in the back of his cab after she fell asleep following a night out, a court heard.

Ioan-Cristian Manole allegedly took advantage of his "very tired" lone female customer after she dozed off in the early hours of the morning.

Prosecutors allege Manole, who is Romanian, parked his cab in a secluded area on a road before removing the sleeping woman's leggings and underwear.

The mother of three, in her 40s, came to and found Manole, 45, raping her, leaving her in "hysterics", it was heard.

Daily Echo: Ioan-Cristian Manole is on trial accused of raping a woman in the back of his taxiIoan-Cristian Manole is on trial accused of raping a woman in the back of his taxi (Image: Solent)

The alleged attack happened in the Fareham area, after the woman - who cannot be named for legal reasons - booked a taxi home from a friend's house.

Opening the trial at Winchester Crown Court, prosecutor Simon Foster said: "A taxi driver who is asked to take a lone female passenger home has a duty to see her home safely and properly."

The woman, who had been out with friends for drinks, left her friend's house in an Aqua Cars taxi at around 3am and had a conversation with Manole, Mr Foster said.

Manole said he was divorced, lived in Southampton, and had a teenage daughter who was studying in Romania.

Mr Foster said that the complainant fell asleep, but after the taxi pulled up near to where she lives, she came round to find Manole raping her on the back seat.

He added: "When she came to, she realised of course what was happening and it stopped.

"That taxi driver had taken advantage of a very tired female. She could feel his body against hers. She reacted by sitting up immediately."

Manole is said to have dropped the passenger home and she 'grabbed her' leggings and underwear and left the vehicle.

Mr Foster said: "She described feeling shocked and numb."

The woman 'sought refuge' with a neighbour and was said to arrive at his in 'hysterics'.

Mr Foster said: "She was sobbing, she was distressed and of course he asked her 'what's happened?'. She said that she had nowhere else to go."

In a police interview played to the court, the woman said 'everything has completely changed' after the rape.

Manole alleges the sex was consensual and that he asked her if 'he could have sex with her and she said yes'.

He denies rape and sex assault by penetration.

The five-day trial continues.