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Predatory rapists are sentenced to 23 years; PAIR LOITERED IN CITY CENTRE LOOKING FOR VICTIMS.

Byline: Rob Kennedy Court reporter rob.kennedy@reachplc.com

TWO predators who raped a vulnerable stranger after abducting her when she offered to pay them to take her home have been jailed for a total of 23 years.

The victim had become separated from her friend after a night out, her phone battery had died and she couldn't find a taxi to take her home.

She spotted Syed Ahmed and Najirul Miah parked up outside a takeaway and believed they might be an unofficial taxi.

In fact they were loitering in Sunderland city centre in the dead of night looking to target women.

When the victim offered them money for the relatively short journey to her home, they agreed and let her in the back of the three-door car.

But rather than taking her home, Ahmed drove to a secluded spot and they took turns to rape her before abandoning her and driving off.

During the ordeal she was told "you are going to have to do this", "be a good woman" and "do as we tell you".

Now Ahmed, 22, has been jailed for 11 years at Newcastle Crown Court while Miah, 22, was locked up for 12 years. Both must sign the sex offenders register indefinitely and were given indefinite restraining orders.

Jodie Menzies, Ahmed's parter at the time, was given a suspended prison sentence for contacting the victim on Facebook and trying to get her to drop the charges against Ahmed, offering her money and emotionally blackmailing her.

The woman said the attack has "stolen her life" and added that the men had an "easy choice" that night and could have taken her home then "no one would be living the nightmare they are living now".

Ahmed, of Chester Street East, Sunderland, was found guilty of rape, false imprisonment and theft of her belongings.

Miah, of Ashwood Terrace, Sunderland, was convicted of rape, sexual assault and false imprisonment, having admitted theft of her belongings. Because of their denials, the woman has had to relive her ordeal from the witness box three times.

The first trial resulted in a hung jury and a second trial was halted due to legal reasons.

After a third trial, which ended in December, both men, who continue to deny the charges, were convicted of offences dating back to 2016.

Judge Sarah Mallett told them: "You forced yourselves, one after the other, on to her.

"Both of you used some force against her during the course of the rapes, as a result of which she sustained, albeit minor, physical injuries." The judge said being thrown out of the car after the rapes added to the victim's "humiliation" and added: "This episode must have been utterly terrifying as well as humiliating." Judge Mallett said Ahmed had shown a "disturbing attitude and a sense of entitlement" about his offending, which he "appears to believe is relatively normal", whereas Miah had demonstrated more victim empathy, she said.

Menzies, 22, of Thackeray Road, Sunderland, admitted attempting to pervert the course in relation to a series of Facebook messages she sent the victim in the aftermath of the attack in a bid to get her to drop the charges against him.

In the messages, Menzies falsely claimed she was pregnant with Ahmed's baby and said she needed him to look after her and the child.

The court heard the victim was left "scared and intimidated" by the contact and had second thoughts about pursuing her complaint.

Menzies was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, with six-month curfew and a five-year restraining order.

David Callan, defending Ahmed, said: "He doesn't agree with the verdict but he does accept it."

Mr Callan said Ahmed, who was 18 at the time of the offences, comes from a respectable family and has treated the court process with respect while on bail.

Paul Reid, defending Miah, said: "This was an incident for which this young man feels deep remorse. Even on his account, he realises that this was appalling behaviour."

Mr Reid said Miah has "changed' in the time since the offences were committed and has a supportive family. Paul Cross, for Menzies, said she was only 18 at the time and is "not just vulnerable but exceptionally vulnerable".

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Syed Ahmed

| Najirul Miah
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Author:Rob Kennedy Court reporter rob.kennedy@reachplc.com
Publication:Sunday Sun (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 9, 2020
Words:715
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