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Telford sex abuse trial: 'She thought perhaps that this was normal'

By Lisa O'Brien | Telford | Crime | Published:

A teenager who was allegedly sexually abused by a group of men on repeated occasions in Telford may have come to believe that behaviour was normal, a jury has been told.

Ghamer Sulayman, Ayad Hizam, and Saleh Qasem, are standing trial at Shrewsbury Crown Court charged with a string of offences in relation to the alleged victim, who was aged 15 at the time and cannot be identified for legal reasons.

The case relates to several incidents in 2016, when she was taken to hotels and car parks in Telford and a house in Birmingham to meet a number of men who allegedly abused her.

In his closing speech, prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said questions could be asked of why the girl acted like she did.

He said there were cases of people staying in 'miserable' marriages and that it could be hard to understand why from another person's perspective.

Trying to explain the girl's behaviour to the jury, Mr Heywood QC said: "She thought perhaps that this was normal." He said a few years had now passed and she has since referred to having a 'proper boyfriend'.

Mr Heywood QC said: "That expression speaks volumes doesn't it.

"These are still the words of a teenager, a slightly older one, but they ring don't they.

"If it's a false story you have been told, why has she come up with an expression like that?"

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He said during one of the encounters the girl said she didn't want to take part in any sexual activity because she was on her period.

He told the jury the specific detail in her account suggested she wasn't lying.

Mr Heywood QC also asked the jury to question the behaviour of the defendants.

He told them to consider why Hizam made no comment to the police after being arrested and why he declined to take part in an identification parade.

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Mr Heywood QC said if she had picked him out it would have demonstrated that he had been in a relationship with a girl too young.

He said: "There's no doubt, he can't shy away from the fact that he booked the hotel rooms.

"The only place he has left to go – I didn't know she was under 16."

He suggested Hizam had known her real age from the start.

Sulayman, 23, of Mercia Drive, Kings Heath, Birmingham, denies one count of rape and two of human trafficking.

On Tuesday the judge directed the jury to find him not guilty of six other charges of rape and one of human trafficking against the girl.

Qasem, 20, of Runcorn Road, Balsall Heath, faces one count of sexual assault and one of trafficking.

Ayad Hizam, 21 and of Bridgecroft, Balsall Heath, also Birmingham, faces four counts of abduction and four counts of sexual activity with a child after allegedly taking the girl to hotels on several nights in 2016.

The trial continues.

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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