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Girl recruited to work as child prostitute while under care of social services, court told

  • @kevinJrawlinson

A teenage girl was one of a group to be recruited to work as child prostitutes by an alleged gang operating in east London while under the care of social services, a court has heard.

The girl, who can only be named as "Girl A" for legal reasons, said she believed she was in a relationship with Naeem Ahmed, 25. She said he convinced to have sex with other men for money, saying that, "[if you do], my love for you will grow". But the court heard that he would later hold her down while two of his co-defendants Nabeel Ahmed, 24, and 30-year-old Jameel Ahmed raped her.

The accusations are part of a catalogue of alleged offences prosecutors say were carried out by the defendants, who they accuse of running a child prostitution ring, preying on vulnerable girls; many of whom were in care at the time. The offences are alleged to have taken place in east London and Essex between October 2011 and December 2012.

Girl A, who was aged 17 at the time of the incident, said that she went to a hotel with Ahmed, two other men and a female friend who lived with her in council-run supported accommodation and who had agreed to work for Ahmed that night for the first time.

However, she said the female friend, who cannot be named either, changed her mind. She left and Girl A called another friend, who subsequently passed out on the bed. She claimed that Naeem Ahmed refused to accept the second friend as a substitute and Girl A said that she was then raped by both men instead, while Naeem Ahmed - known to her as Ricky - held her down.

"[Ricky] said because the other two had let him down, I needed to do it to show him that I was his top girl," she said. Girl A added: "Ricky told me that if I had sex with the other guys and made him money then me and him would be together."

She said that he held her down because "he knew that I didn't want to do it and he knew that I'd probably try to fight back". And she said she did not try to fight back "because I was in love with Ricky and I wanted to do anything to make him happy".

Her evidence was given via a written police statement and a series of recorded interviews and she later appeared in person to be cross-examined.

Her tearful account of the hotel incident during a police interview, which was recorded last year, was played for the jury today. In the video, she was seen to sit with a Whinnie the Pooh cuddly toy as she recounted her experience to police. And, during cross examination in court, she broke down in tears as she described the events, leaning forward and sobbing.

In an earlier statement to police, read out in court by prosecutor Sarah Przybylska today, the girl said that not long after the pair met, it became clear that Ricky considered her only as someone who worked for him. She then became involved in what she believed to be a loving relationship with his co-defendant 25-year-old Anas Iqbal, who would sometimes supervise her as she worked.

Girl A said he told her he wanted to "get her away from this all". Nevertheless, she said, she was still expected to continue working as a prostitute. She agreed that it could be seen as a "missed opportunity" not to have gone with him but said she refused because she loved Ricky. She also denied the defence counsel's suggestion in court that the alleged rape never happened.

The court heard evidence from Girl A alleging that Naeem Ahmed asked her if there were other girls she knew who would be interested in also working as prostitutes for him. During cross examination, she admitted lying to police earlier about the circumstances under which two girls she knew in her council-run home subsequently came to be involved with the alleged gang.

She told the court that she was scared of what would happen to her if she told the truth. And she revealed that she discussed what she was involved in with two girls in her supported accommodation on separate occasions. She said the conversations started after the girls worked out she was working as a prostitute and that she warned both not to follow her lead. Both, she said, expressed interest despite her warnings.

Girl A is the first to give evidence in the trial, which opened this week. Under cross-examination, The five defendants are charged with a total of 17 counts of sexual crimes, including rape and sexual assault, and four related to child prostitution.

The defendants: Naeem Ahmed; Nabeel Ahmed; Jameel Ahmed; Anas Iqbal; and Hassan Raza, 23, all deny each charge they face. The trial continues.