Mother-of-eight Shamim Akhtar jailed for drugging daughter

 

A grandmother has been jailed for four years for kidnapping and drugging her own daughter after she refused to marry the man her family wanted her to.

Mother-of-eight Shamim Akhtar, 59, was jailed with her son, Shamrez Khan, and her son-in-law, Zahid Mahmood, by a judge who heard that they abused Naila Afsar, then 23, out of "some misplaced sense of warped family honour".

Khan, 34, was given a five year sentence and Mahmood, 37, was jailed for four years at Burnley Crown Court today.

Sentencing Akhtar, Judge Simon Newell told her: "She's your youngest daughter and your role was to care for her, support her and look after her best interests.

"Instead you chose to control, drug and abuse her in the interests of the family reputation."

Akhtar, of Kirkwall Drive, Bradford, West Yorkshire was found guilty of kidnap, false imprisonment and two counts of administering a drug after a four-week trial at Preston Crown Court earlier this year.

Khan, of Moore Avenue, Bradford, and Mahmood, of Empress Street, Accrington, Lancashire, both pleaded guilty to the same offences part-way through the same trial.

Judge Newell heard that Mrs Afsar's family had lined up a marriage for her with her cousin but, after some time together, she decided she wanted to end that relationship.

He was told she came under sustained pressure from her family in Bradford to the extent that she fled to Newcastle, where she thought they would not find her.

In Newcastle, she met postgraduate student Afsar Saddiq. They started a relationship and later married.

Once settled, Mrs Afsar tried to re-establish a relationship with her family but they began to pressure her again to divorce and restart the relationship with her cousin.

Things came to a head in January 2010 when Khan, his mother and others travelled to Newcastle, broke into Mrs Afsar's flat and threatened her and her husband.

She was taken to Accrington where various attempts were made to change her mind.

At one point her mother said to Mrs Afsar that she was "worse than a prostitute, you should be killed", the court heard.

But, Judge Newell said: "She resisted these attempts and she stood up to you."

He said Khan, who was effectively the head of the family, pushed and slapped his sister.

The judge said Khan thought his sister's actions had "brought shame and disgrace on the family, had impugned their honour".

Eventually, Mrs Afsar was made to drink a milky drink which contained the drug lorazepam - described in court today as a "date rape drug".

She was bundled into a car in an attempt to force her to go from Accrington to Bradford, against her will.

But the police were alerted and officers pulled the vehicle over.

Judge Newell praised Mrs Afsar, saying she was an "intelligent, educated and articulate young woman", adding that she was "independent, determined and resourceful".

He said: "She epitomised a modern young Asian woman making her life as a citizen of this country."

Judge Newell told the three defendants he accepted that everyone wants to do what they think is best for their children but everyone is subject to the law.

"Adult, educated, intelligent and independent children have a right to self-determination and freedom of choice," the judge said.

"These rights have been hard-won over many years - particularly in the case of women - and are fiercely protected by the courts."

Speaking after the hearing, Detective Inspector Mark Vaughton, from Lancashire Police, said: "This has been a very difficult and traumatic experience for the victim, who was forced into hiding to escape abuse from members of her own family.

"She was treated in the most dreadful way by the people who were supposed to protect and care for her. She has shown a great deal of courage in coming forward and we will continue to offer her support for as long as she needs it."

Mr Vaughton urged victims of similar crimes to continue to come forward and contact the police in confidence.

"I hope this case highlights the help and support that is available for victims and I urge anyone who is suffering in similar circumstances to come forward and contact the police," he said.

"We will not tolerate any acts of honour-based abuse in our communities and we work very closely with professionals such as healthcare staff, the Lancashire Domestic Abuse Partnership, social services and teachers to ensure victims of forced marriage receive the best possible help and support.

"We understand the complex cultural issues around victims coming forward but, as this case demonstrates, we are committed to investigating any reports of this nature thoroughly and will do everything within our powers to bring offenders before the courts."

PA