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'Let down': Woman who caught Uber driver snooping left in dark over court case

Cheree Kinnear,
Publish Date
Tue, 21 Nov 2023, 8:56am

'Let down': Woman who caught Uber driver snooping left in dark over court case

Cheree Kinnear,
Publish Date
Tue, 21 Nov 2023, 8:56am

The Auckland woman who caught an Uber driver snooping around her property after dropping her home is “disappointed” with the way police handled her case, after being left in the dark over the offender’s guilty plea and subsequent court ruling. 

In August, Gemma Cappel was dropped home about 3am by an Uber driver. Moments later, a notification from one of her security cameras alerted her to a person outside her house. 

The camera showed a man - who Cappel identified as the driver - walking around her property and behind the side of her house before returning up the driveway. 

Cappel went to police a few days later and the man was eventually charged with being unlawfully on a property. 

The driver pleaded guilty in court on October 21 and was offered diversion - which police say he has now completed. 

But Cappel was never notified of the update, nor was she given the opportunity to write a victim impact statement. 

“I was told when I gave my initial statement that if he pleaded guilty, I would do a victim impact statement and get to read it for the judge,” Cappel said. “I was prepared to have my voice heard but I didn’t even get that. 

“I didn’t hear anything, I had to chase them up again and again. 

“It’s something that’s kept me awake multiple nights.” 

According to the police website, the diversion scheme provides an alternative to full prosecution such as community work, undertaking courses or writing an apology letter to the victim. 

Police refused to elaborate on what form of diversion the offender was required to complete but acknowledged Cappel should have been notified. 

“When an identified victim exists, consultation with the victim must occur and the victim’s views considered before making a final diversion decision so that all information can be evaluated,” a police spokesperson said. 

“The officer involved in the case was overseas at the time this went to court. As such, during the officer’s absence, the diversion assessment process has been started. 

“Whilst it appears that the victim hadn’t been briefed of the diversion happening, she had been informed prior that the defendant was highly likely going to eligible for the diversion scheme.” 

Cappel said while she understands her case wouldn’t have been the highest of priorities for the officer in charge, she can’t help but feel let down. 

“I feel like the whole system let me down and let down everybody who has followed the story and women in general. 

“I’m disappointed by all of it, I’m disappointed nobody told me about the diversion, or what that even means. 

“Knowing the outcome and having all my questions answered is a huge part of healing.” 

Uber, meanwhile, confirmed in a statement that the driver had been removed from the app. 

“Safety is our top priority. This kind of behaviour has no place on the Uber platform and subsequently, the driver partner’s access to the Uber app has been removed. 

“We take riders’ safety very seriously and encourage all users to report any issues with the ability to access our 24/7 customer support team. For every complaint raised, we follow a detailed process where we seek to gather relevant information from all parties, and then take appropriate action. This is a core pillar of how we help keep the entire Uber community safe.” 

Cappel has since written her own victim impact statement as she tries to move on from the incident. 

While she won’t have the chance to ever read it in court, she said it had been very “therapeutic” and hoped it would inspire her own daughter “to feel empowered and to stand in her truth”. 

“This girl is no longer turning a blind eye to wrongdoings, this girl is calling out lies and behaviour that is not okay,” Cappel wrote in her statement. 

“A girl that will tell her story to help others, a girl who will do what it takes to make it safer for other girls to be able to get home safely, to feel safe, to be safe. 

“I hope that holding you accountable makes you think twice about future actions and I hope that you never, ever make anyone feel unsafe and that nothing like this ever happens to your daughter.”

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