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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Court hears girls as young as 12 'abused, raped and trafficked for sex'

Written by The Press Association

Young girls were abused, raped and trafficked for sex by Somali men, a court has heard.

Alleged victims as young as 12 were subjected to sexual abuse that was "degrading, violent and horrible" in inner city Bristol, the city's Crown Court was told.

Some of the seven were allegedly given drugs and alcohol and were "pestered again and again" for sex by the men, who were mostly older teenagers, the jury heard.

Prosecutors said that the alleged rapes became "routine" and that the men regarded some of the girls as "cheap and easy".

Anna Vigars, prosecuting, described some of the girls, who cannot be named for legal reasons, as "vulnerable" and said they believed they were in relationships with the men.

Seven Somali men went on trial at Bristol Crown Court at the beginning of September accused of a total of 46 charges, including rape, rape of a child under 13, sexual assault, trafficking for sexual exploitation and false imprisonment.

The defendants are: Sakariya Sheikh, 23, known as "Zak"; Abdirahman Galal, 26, known as "Ramsey"; Mohammed Osman, 29, known as "I-Man"; Mohammed Dahir, 24, known as "Kamal"; Nuridin Mohamoud, 22, known as "Ahmed"; Abdirashid Abdulahi, 23, known as "Abs" or "Older Abs"; and Nasir Mahamoud, 23, known as "Ace".

A ban preventing the media from reporting the case until the alleged victims had finished giving their evidence was lifted on Monday following an application by the Press Association.

The jury has heard evidence that on one occasion in March 2013 a 15-year-old girl was allegedly simultaneously raped by Sheikh and another man at a flat in Bristol.

In another alleged incident a girl who had celebrated her 12th birthday a month earlier was raped by Galal, leaving her feeling "dirty" and "regretful", the jury heard.

The court heard that the majority of the alleged offences happened between 2011 and 2012 against girls who had travelled to Bristol by train to meet the men.

Mrs Vigars told the court that the prosecution case was that the girls "suffered sexual abuse, some of it violent, degrading and horrible, some of it less so".

The majority of the alleged offences had been committed against one girl who found "all the attention and excitement she had been missing at home" with the defendants in Bristol, the court heard.

"Young men who gave her drugs and alcohol and who used her again and again for sex, pestering her sometimes by threats, sometimes going on and on, relentlessly grinding her down into submission and sometimes by using physical violence," she said.

"You will hear the word rape many times over the next few weeks.

"Rape - it is perhaps every woman's worst nightmare. It doesn't have to involve a knife in an alleyway or a stranger.

"It can almost come routine and that's what we say was happening to her. She would come over to Bristol regularly and she would be raped repeatedly by men she knew.

"They knew her as someone who was easy and cheap. She wasn't cheap and easy. She was vulnerable because she was so young."

The court heard that the girl kept a diary of her trips to Bristol, in which she left coded messages about what was happening in her life, with references to sex and oral sex.

"There are not too many young girls writing a diary ... She was giving blow jobs to X, Y and Z and she had sex with A, B and C," Mrs Vigars said.

"It is clear the diary was kept as she was going along and was a record of what was going on day by day. What it does give is a clear indication of how often she was expected to give oral sex or have sex with men when she came to Bristol.

"There are other occasions which are so routine and part of her life and happening so often that she can't remember the detail.

"How can anything like that come so routine that it didn't stand out? The reality is that these men exploited her vulnerability and her longing to be wanted, they had sex with her as much as they wanted to.

"Many of them she didn't want to have sex with but she did so because that was what she was told to do and she went along because she was forced.

"Her relationships with certain men were about being in charge and using her for what they wanted.

"They had no interest in whether she got anything out of it or what she wanted. They wanted sex and didn't consider whether she was consenting or not.

"It was about power and control and exploitation of her vulnerability."

Some of the defendants deny knowing the girls they are accused of abusing or say they have been wrongly identified by a street name.

The defendants deny all the charges they face and the trial was adjourned until Thursday.

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