LONDON (AP) — An 84-year-old man was sentenced Wednesday to 13 years in prison for repeatedly raping a deaf and mute girl he trafficked into Britain and kept as a virtual slave.
Ilyas Ashar — who brought the girl into the U.K. from Pakistan in 2000 when she was about 10 — was found guilty of rape by a jury last week. He was convicted at an earlier trial of trafficking and benefits fraud charges in relation to the child.
The victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was beaten and kept in a cellar of the Ashar family home in the Manchester area of northwest England. In sentencing, Judge Peter Lakin said neither Ashar nor his wife had expressed any remorse and failed to treat the girl as a human being.
"To you she was merely an object to be used, abused and cast aside at will," he said. The girl — who could not read or write — was taught to write her name by Ashar and his family so they could claim benefits.
Ashar's wife, Tallat, was jailed for five years on trafficking and benefits fraud charges. The couple had pleaded not guilty. Prosecutor Peter Cadwallader praised the victim's courage and "extraordinary resilience" in testifying in court.
When she was rescued in a police raid in 2009, the victim did not know formal sign language. British prosecutors and police arranged specialist support so that she could participate in the court proceedings, having an intermediary and a sign-language expert to help her communicate in court.
Speaking through an interpreter and using sign language, the victim described how she was hit with a rolling pin while forced to work for no money, made to sleep on a concrete floor in a bolted cellar and sexually abused.