Monday, November 10, 2008

14-year-old girl was the victim of a 'punishment rape' by nine schoolboys

rapeNine schoolboys are facing years behind bars for brutally gang-raping a 14-year-old girl because she 'disrespected' the gang's leader.

The boys were aged as young as 12, with the oldest just 16, when they took it in turns to attack their defenceless victim.

The youngster had been at her cousin's house and was walking to her home round the corner shortly after 6pm on April 30 last year when she was confronted by the gang in Hackney, East London.

The group's leader, a 16-year-old, started up an argument with her over a comment she had apparently made to his girlfriend that she shouldn't be with him.

The boys were all 'youngers', or junior members, of a notorious east London gang called the Kingshold Boys.

One of thugs took her mobile and the leader told her she could only get it back if she performed a sex act on him before dragging her into the communal area of a block of flats.

The youths were disturbed by a passer by and the girl was dragged, at one stage in a headlock, to another block of flats nearby.

She was forced to take off her clothes and raped. She fought back at first but the gang threatened to kill her and she gave up, fearing for her life.

The girl was taken to a third of block of flats where she was raped again.

One of them told the terrified victim, now aged 15: 'I can't help you now, I'm with my boys.'

A boy who saw what was happening helped her escape and they ran to police officers who were on patrol nearby.

Six of the youngsters were found guilty last week of every charge they faced - 13 counts of rape, kidnap and false imprisonment - after a six-week trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court, East London.

Three other teenagers, including the leader, pleaded guilty to rape, kidnap and false imprisonment before the trial.

Police confirmed the youngest offender was just 12 at the time of the attack. Of the others, two were only 13, five were 14 and the oldest was 16.

The girl bravely gave evidence in court from behind a screen and was in the witness box for five gruelling days.

An order currently prohibits publishing the identities of the attackers.

Following the verdicts, at least three of the defendants stormed from the dock in disbelief.

Several of their parents were sobbing in the public gallery.

After ordering them to return, Judge Wendy Joseph QC told them: 'This is a tragedy not only for your victim, who I think you now understand will never get over this, but it's a tragedy for you too.

'And it all blew up that afternoon.

'One of the things I think is so sad about this case is I'm absolutely sure that she was telling the truth when she said that (one of you) said you could not help her because you were with your boys now.

'Essentially it wasn't about you setting out to do what you did, it was about you setting out to stick with your mates.

'You have each been convicted of a terrible series of crimes and the only sentence I can pass will be one of custody.

'In the meantime you will remain in custody.'

Judge Joseph added: 'They are very young - I want to know what's been going on in their backgrounds.'

Investigating officer DC Jonathan Burks, of the Metropolitan Police, said: 'You have the elder gang members who run the gang and the younger ones who will: A, try to emulate the elders, and B, do what they're told by the elders.

'I hope this result provides some comfort to the victim, who went through a hugely distressing and traumatic ordeal at the age of just 14.

'I commend her and the sheer bravery of the other young witnesses in standing up in court and giving evidence.

'I hope this case demonstrates the Met's commitment to tackling gang culture, reassuring the local community and supporting victims and witnesses throughout the criminal justice process.

'These young men might think they are untouchable but they are not.'

The nine will be sentenced on December 5.


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