Lawyer claimed Muslim shame enough for child abuser
A judge has rejected the claim of a lawyer defending a woman who was convicted of a string of sexual offences against a nine-year-old girl that she should not face jail time because the "shame" brought on herself and her family is punishment enough.
Raheelah Dar, 43, from Middlesborough, was convicted of three counts of indecent assault and two of indecency with a child, which she denied. She was jailed for seven years at a sentencing hearing on Tuesday.
She was accused of isolating, manipulating and molesting the girl, who is now an adult and cannot be named for legal reasons, in a case of abuse that spanned four years, Gazette Live reported.
The victim described how she feels intimidated and "unable to engage in social situations" due to the abuse, and could not stand to be touched by other people to this day.
She also explained she had suffered health problems by feeling unable to see a doctor, struggled with her family, with self-harming and with her weight.
Ms Dar's barrister requested her client receive a community sentence for the conviction over a jail sentence.
Alison Pryor told Teeside Crown Court: "Because of the context under which this offending took place, my client is a practicing Muslim, the shame that this has brought and will bring on her family cannot be underestimated. It is something that would not be found in a more ordinary case of this type.
"The effect that a sentence would have is less than the effect that the conviction had on the community."
She also cited the mental health issues outlined in Ms Dar's psychiatric report, and her diagnosis of bi polar disorder, as further reason for a community sentence, the Daily Mail reported.
Recorder Tim Roberts QC said he would be failing in his duties if he did not pass a jail sentence.
He told Ms Dar: "You were 26. She was only nine. You were sexually experienced and had been married. She was an innocent. You were crafty."
A spokeswoman for Cleveland police said: "All cases of sexual abuse will be investigated thoroughly and professionally by specially trained officers.
"Victims should not suffer in silence and hopefully this example will assist in encouraging victims of sexual abuse to report it to police. Today's sentence will stand as an example that those responsible for sexual abuse will be brought to justice."