A driver for the biggest ride-hailing company in China was sentenced to death Friday for raping and killing a young passenger, in a case that drew nationwide attention amid concerns over the safety of such services.

The Wenzhou City Intermediate Court sentenced Zhong Yuan after convicting him of robbery, rape and intentional homicide.

The court said the 28-year-old Zhong started working for Didi Chuxing after racking up gambling debts which he hoped to pay off by robbing passengers.

The company fired two executives and suspended one of its carpooling services following the killing last summer.

Didi says it books 30 million rides daily nationwide, making it by far the biggest ride-hailing company in China.

Police said the 19-year-old victim, identified only by her surname, Zhao, had used the carpooling service on the afternoon of Aug. 24 and messaged friends for help while being driven to a remote mountainous area outside Wenzhou.

The court said Zhong had sought to assault and rob another passenger a day before killing Zhao, which the company earlier acknowledged it did not respond to adequately.

A Didi spokeswoman on Friday said the company had no comment on Zhong’s sentencing.

~source