Woman jailed for luring girls

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The Independent Online

A woman who lured two 16-year-old girls on a night out to be raped by three men has been sent to a young offenders institute for seven years.

Stephanie Knight, who was 17 at the time, lied to her victims that they were going out to a nightclub.

Instead they were driven around and plied with alcohol and drugs before they were sexually assaulted by brothers Amjad Hussain, 34, and Shahid Hussain, 38, and their cousin Tanveer Butt, 39.

The girls, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were taken from Blackburn to a derelict terrace house in Accrington with no electricity as one of the girls was subjected to a "terrifying ordeal" of rape.

Knight, 19, wanted the other teenager to perform oral sex on one of the men but she refused. She and Butt then stopped her going to the assistance of her friend, who was crying out while being raped, as she told her "she is chilling with my boys".

Knight's former boyfriend, Amjad Hussain, then raped both girls as he drove them home in December 2009.

All three male defendants were jailed indefinitely at Preston Crown Court and ordered to serve at least seven-and-a-half years before they can be considered for parole.

Knight, who had been in local authority care since the age of 11, told a jury she first met Amjad Hussain six months earlier when he pulled up beside her in the street in his car and asked for her mobile phone number.

They went on to have a sexual relationship and she said she later fell in love with him.

In the months that followed, he persuaded her to perform oral sex on the other two defendants, she said.

It emerged during her trial that she was being supported by Engage, a multi-agency initiative set up to tackle child sex exploitation in Blackburn.

In mitigation, Knight was described as a "victim" who claimed she had previously been raped herself in a separate incident.

Sentencing her, Judge Beverley Lunt said: "It is clear you have had a difficult life so far. There is no doubt you have distorted views of morality and appropriate behaviour.

"There is no question that you were badly used by these men. You knew what they were like and what their interests were and yet you lured the girls into their clutches.

"But for you, neither girl would have been exposed to the danger on the night and subjected to the humiliating rapes.

"You played a vital part in this conspiracy and knew what you were doing."

Knight, formerly of Rawtenstall; Amjad Hussain, of Accrington; and married father-of-four Butt, of Rochdale, were all convicted of conspiracy to rape.

Knight and Butt were also found guilty of aiding and abetting rape while Amjad Hussain, Shahid Hussain, of Drake Street, Rochdale, and Butt were all found guilty of rape.

All four defendants denied the offences.

The judge said all four defendants had not shown any remorse or contrition.

She said the "total lack of humanity" shown by them as one of the girls was raped repeatedly in the house was "so disturbing and horrifiying".

Their not guilty pleas had forced the two girls to "relive the harrowing events of that night and face lengthy questioning by your lawyers".

She singled out Amjad Hussain for telling "wicked falsehoods" to the jury in seeking to portray his victims as "amoral and promiscuous women".

Elizabeth Nicholls, defending Knight, said: "One does not have to look far for an explanation as to why this young lady has been drawn into the offences. At some stage she was much a victim as those that later become victim to her."

She said her pre-sentence report recorded a "chilling account" of her life in care with 23 placements between the age of 11 and 17.

"Little wonder she became a child deprived of love, affection and emotional support," she said.

"She was a victim herself but did not regard herself as a victim but rather welcomed the attention of the men who preyed on her and these men."

In April 2009, Knight reported to the police she had been the victim of a similar type of rape.

For whatever reason the matter was not pursued and Knight continued on her "destructive and chaotic lifestyle", Miss Nicholls said.

"She was and still is vulnerable."

Knight was recognised by inmates at Styal Prison following media coverage of her conviction and for her own safety had to be separated from the main wing, the court heard.

Miss Nicholls said: "I submit Stephanie Knight is a very fragile and very vulnerable young lady.

"While she has been in custody she has been completely isolated by her family.

"Her mother has not visited her despite Stephanie Knight's desire she does so."

The barrister asked the judge to keep the sentence as short as possible.

Both victims had known Knight for only up to a week and had not previously met any of the other defendants.

The girl who was raped at the house said in her victim impact statement that she now had a greater insight into Knight's background.

"At the time she hated Stephanie with every bone in her body."

The girl now suffers anxiety attacks and can be frightened by just a knock on the door, the prosecutor said.

She was determined to rebuild her life but was critical of her experience in court where she felt she had been made to feel "cheap and a liar".

She had told police she was pulled into a number of rooms at Amjad Hussain's rented home in Craven Street by the men.

After Knight lured the girls she was heard to say "got them" in a mobile phone conversation.

Following the arrest of the defendants, one of the victims was asked by detectives what she now knew of Knight. She replied: "She hangs around with a load of Asian lads."