Man guilty of raping deaf girl he trafficked into UK from Pakistan

Ilyas Ashar

A man was convicted yesterday of raping a deaf girl he trafficked into Britain with his wife from Pakistan.

The young victim, who couldn’t speak, endured a decade of tormenting sexual abuse at the hands of Ilyas Ashar, 84.

She was also enslaved to work at the family home in Eccles, Salford, as a domestic labourer and slept in the cellar. Under the threat of violence, she was made to sew, clean, cook and wash cars for the family and their friends.

The conviction of Ilyas Ashar came as a result of two prolonged and distinct criminal trials.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was only able to detail the level of her abuse to police after she was taught basic sign language by experts.

She was brought to Salford from a village in Lahore, Pakistan in 2000 aged around nine or 10.

But the sign language she was taught by experts over months led to his conviction after she signed her evidence to a jury in a series of long court sittings.

The girl called Ilyas Ashar “the bad old man”.

Ilyas Ashar was remanded in custody ahead of sentence.

He was told by judge Peter Lakin that he faces an extensive jail sentence.

Life change

The verdicts brought a painstaking investigation by Greater Manchester Police codenamed Operation Seafarer to an end. It was launched in 2009 when the victim, who couldn’t read or write and communicated with facial expressions, was found sleeping in a camp bed in a cellar at the Ashar’s family home on Cromwell Road.

Now thought to be in her early twenties, the victim is receiving lessons in numeracy and literacy at a college and has told police that she enjoys walking in fresh air, travelling on buses and visiting fairgrounds.

She is said to be living “semi-independently” at a classified address.

The full scope of the orphan’s plight can finally be revealed after reporting restrictions were lifted by a judge in court.

The girl, who weighed just 4st 8lb, was taught to sign on by the family, who used her to claim more than £30,000 in benefits which they kept.

The Ashars, who have five children, own and rent out properties in Salford. They also own property in Pakistan, including a factory.

Verdict

Ilyas Ashar was found guilty yesterday at a re-trial of 13 counts of rape.

He was found guilty in 2012 after trial of two counts of trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation.

His wife Tallat Ashar, 68, was found guilty at the same trial last year of two counts of trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation.

The couple, alongside their daughter Faaiza Ashar, 46, a former bank clerk from Milton Road, Eccles, were also found guilty of benefit fraud.

The jury failed to reach a verdict on charges of false imprisonment, which both Ilyas and Tallat Ashar denied.

All three will be sentenced at a later date.

The victim’s plight was uncovered after police and Salford trading standards investigators went to the house as part of an investigation into money laundering.

Her details had been used on bank accounts linked to the couple and officers asked to speak to her when they attended the house.

Head of Salford Police, Chief Supt Mary Doyle said the girl experienced years of “domestic exploitation” at the hands of the Ashar family.

She said: “What is remarkable – and the most important aspect of this unusual case – is that the victim has emerged a confident, well-adjusted and determined young woman. It is truly amazing how she has turned her life round and we have nothing but the utmost respect for her.

“At no stage have the defendants shown any remorse, or admitted to what they did to a girl, who was only as young as 10 when this began. Despite the fact that her disabilities would have been apparent to anyone, they never once sought help for her or let her get any kind of formal or informal education.”

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