Two-year cut in jail term for man convicted over Debenhams toilets sex attack on teenage boy

Law firm worker Alex Wilson-Fletcher now sentenced to 13 years for 'disturbing and shocking' offence

One of two men jailed for a "disturbing and shocking" sex attack on a teenage boy in the toilets of a city-centre department store has won a two-year reduction in his prison sentence.

Law firm worker Alex Wilson-Fletcher, 42, of Oldham Street, Manchester, was originally sentenced to a total of 15 years along with Abdelkader El-Janabi, 55, a former intelligence officer in Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime.

Three judges at the Court of Appeal in London today rejected a challenge against the length of his sentence by El-Janabi, of Artillery Court, Ardwick, Manchester, but allowed an appeal by Wilson-Fletcher, reducing his term to one of 13 years.

The pair were found guilty by a jury at Manchester Crown Court in April of two counts of rape and two counts of sexual assault against a 14-year-old victim and were sentenced in June.

The boy was abducted when he went to the toilets in Manchester's Arndale Centre on a busy Saturday afternoon last summer and was then taken to the toilets of a nearby Debenhams store where the attack took place.

El-Janabi and Wilson-Fletcher were tracked down after images from CCTV were circulated around the UK by police.

The defendant who physically raped the boy was El-Janabi, but Wilson-Fletcher was convicted of taking part in a joint enterprise.

Wilson-Fletcher's sentence was cut by Lord Justice Davis, Mr Justice Nicol and the Recorder of Chester, Judge Elgan Edwards as both men watched the proceedings via video-link from prison.

Giving the decision of the court in Wilson-Fletcher's case, Mr Justice Nicol described what had happened as an "appalling" string of offences, stating that Wilson-Fletcher's role merited a severe sentence.

Describing the roles of each of the men, the judge said El-Janabi was the "ringleader" and it was he who "took the physical part in the counts of rape, not Wilson-Fletcher".

The judge said the court considered that while Wilson-Fletcher deserved a "condign" sentence, "his crimes did not merit one that was as long" as El-Janabi's.

Dismissing the appeal by El-Janabi, Mr Justice Nicol said the court was satisfied that the sentence imposed in his case was "amply justified".

When sentencing the pair in June Judge Michael Leeming told Wilson-Fletcher he was "at least a look-out" and encouraged the other defendant.

He said he did not see any distinction between the two men in terms of setting an appropriate prison term.

The Crown Court heard the boy was terrified that the pair would follow him once he broke free from them and he walked around six miles to a friend's house because he was too scared to get on a bus.

The judge at Manchester also said he had read a impact statement from the young victim which described how he took an overdose of pills and alcohol a few months after the attack which was a "cry for help".

Neither of the men have any previous convictions and the judge described them as "mature, intelligent men".

During the hearing today Lord Justice Davis described the facts of the case as "very disturbing and shocking" where a boy had been raped in "circumstances of abduction and intimidation" - describing what had happened as "predatory".

PA