Deaf girl tells court the details of her life 'kept as a slave in cellar'

A deaf and mute woman who claims she was kept in a cellar and treated as a virtual slave for almost a decade told a court of her former life in terrible conditions sleeping on a concrete floor.

The orphaned youth from Pakistan gave evidence via a video-link to the courtroom, using sign-language to answer questions as she was shown photos of the inside of the cellar. Claiming she was locked in a cellar each night and by day forced to work cooking and cleaning for no money, the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pointed out a camp bed where she said she slept and a radiator she used to keep warm.

Her alleged abusers were Ilyas Ashar, 83, pictured, and his 66-year-old wife, Tallat Ashar. Both deny charges of false imprisonment, human trafficking, sexual offences, violence and benefit fraud.

They are accused of abusing the woman, now aged between 19 and 21, at their home in Eccles, Salford, Greater Manchester, after bringing her into Britain from Pakistan in June 2000. The trial, now in its third week, has heard claims the woman was beaten regularly, repeatedly raped by Ilyas Ashar and kept a virtual prisoner to work for the family, never having gone to school and taught only to sign her name – for the purposes of a benefits scam.

Yesterday she told the jury at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester that she would at times also sleep on a sofa in the cellar, but for some time while living with the Ashars, was ordered not to use the sofa and instead told to sleep on a sheet on the concrete floor of the cellar. Peter Cadwallader, prosecuting, asked why she slept on the floor beside the settee.

"The old woman [Mrs Ashar]," she replied through the sign-language interpreter. "I was told to sleep on the floor, I had to sleep on the floor and that's what I did."

The trial continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk