Deaf girl raped by trafficker
A pensioner who trafficked a deaf and mute girl into the UK, using her to milk the benefits system, was today found guilty of repeatedly raping her.
Ilyas Ashar, 84, sexually abused his vulnerable victim repeatedly, Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester heard.
Two female jurors wept as guilty verdicts were delivered on 13 counts of rape.
One woman on the jury covered her face with her hands while a male juror held the hand of another female juror who was also weeping.
All were excused from sitting as jurors again for 10 years after hearing details of the case.
The girl, from Pakistan who is profoundly deaf and cannot speak, was beaten and slapped and forced to work for Ashar and his family as a domestic servant.
While Ashar used his victim to satisfy his sexual desires the girl was also used to steal more than £30,000 in benefits on her behalf.
The youngster was even taught enough sign language by the family so she could agree to the benefit money being handed over to the Ashars.
She was first brought into the UK in June 2000 when aged around 10, though her exact age is not known.
But the passport used claimed the girl was 20 and it was a matter of "mystery and concern" how immigration officials at Heathrow did not spot the difference in age.
For almost a decade the girl, now aged 19 or 20, had to work and sleep in the cellar at the family's substantial family's home in Cromwell Road, Eccles in Salford.
Ashar was today convicted of 13 counts of rape. He had been convicted at an earlier trial of two counts of trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation, two counts of furnishing false information to obtain a benefit and one of permitting furnishing of false information to obtain a benefit.
His wife, Tallat Ashar, 68, was found guilty of two counts of trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation and four counts of furnishing false information to obtain a benefit.
His daughter, Faaiza Ashar, 46, was found guilty at an earlier trial of two counts of furnishing false information to obtain a benefit and one count of permitting furnishing of false information to obtain a benefit.
All three were convicted at the earlier trial where the jury were unable to reach verdicts on the allegations of rape so Ashar was re-tried.
Reporting on the second trial was banned until today's verdicts were in and the jury were not told about the guilty verdicts at the earlier trial where the court heard the girl was made to cook, clean, do the washing and ironing for the Ashars and clean the houses and cars of their family and friends.
She also spent her days in the cellar packing football shirts, clothes and mobile phone covers.
The girl had no family or friends in the UK and had never been to school in Pakistan or Britain.
She could not read or write and the only people she knew in Britain were the Ashars, who told her both her parents were dead.
She was, however, taught to write her signature - so her name could be used to claim benefits.
Despite her disabilities the girl has an average, or higher, intelligence level and is a "remarkably resilient young woman", the court heard.
Judge Peter Lakin excused the panel of six men and six women of sitting as jurors again for 10 years and thanked them for their public duty in what he described as a "difficult" case.
Ashar's lawyer asked for bail to be continued but the judge refused.
He said earlier in the trial Ashar's electronic tag had come off - the prosecution said it was a "testing" to see how quickly the authorities could react.
Judge Lakin said this made him "deeply suspicious" and now he was revoking the defendant's bail.
He said: "In my judgement cases such as this, with defendants facing substantial custodial sentences, there's always the significant temptation of defendants not attending here when required."
Ashar was remanded into custody to be sentenced next week along with his wife and daughter, who sat in the public gallery grim faced.
Ian Rushton, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West, said: "At the start of this prosecution, the young victim was one of the most vulnerable that we have ever come across.
"When she was first brought to the UK she was just a child.
"She was unable to hear or speak and had no formal sign language through which to communicate, no family or friends to turn to, had never been to school and had no knowledge of this country's culture and society.
"She was used as forced labour by the Ashars - ill-treated and exploited financially and repeatedly raped by Ilyas Ashar.
"We have been determined to bring them to justice for this catalogue of abuse.
"This was an extremely challenging case for the prosecution team, police and court service, but at the heart of it was a vulnerable young victim who suffered appallingly at the hands of Ilyas and Tallat Ashar.
"Today, they are facing the serious consequences of their terrible treatment of her.
"I am pleased that she is now free from that abuse.
"Since the first trial, she has impressed everyone involved in the case with the remarkable way that she has moved on in her life, and how well she is now doing.
"She has shown real courage and determination in giving evidence at this re-trial and at the first trial.
"I hope that today's outcome will help her to continue to move on in such a positive way."