Hotelier spared jail for locking up teenager

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The Independent Online

A millionaire hotelier who locked a "desperate" 18-year-old girl in his bedroom for 10 hours wept as he was spared jail today.

Ali Farhani, 53, of Mayfair, London, was found guilty of false imprisonment and given a four-month prison term, suspended for a year.

The Old Bailey heard the teenager was taken to Iranian-born Farhani's house in Charles Street late at night in July 2008.

She said that after sexual activity had taken place, he locked her in the bedroom until the following evening.

The court heard she sent Farhani a text saying "Can I go out now please?" but there was no reply.

She said she was "desperate" to get out and use the toilet and the heat in the room was making her feel ill.

But when she called Farhani, he said: "You haven't been on the phone? Nobody knows you are here do they?"

The court heard that when the businessman returned just before 6pm he asked her "what's the hurry?" and asked her to stay for another drink.

Farhani said he had believed the girl to be an escort - saying he used prostitutes because he was to busy for a social life - and that he had locked her in because he did not want her walking around his commercial premises.

The court heard his £75 million hotel empire in London had collapsed in the 1980s but he had since rebuilt his business.

He was found guilty in April of the allegation of false imprisonment but only sentenced today after being acquitted of a similar allegation relating to a woman applying for a job in Farhani's hotel business in December 2009.

Judge Martin Stephens said the behaviour he had been convicted of was "totally unacceptable" and he considered it a "very serious matter".

He told Farhani: "I do suggest that you should learn a lesson about the way you treat young women whom you invite into your premises because a very sinister interpretation could be put on what you say are entirely innocent activities."

In addition to his suspended sentence, the businessman was ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work.