By Lucy Caulkett-
A detention officer raped a female Roma inmate at the Yarl Wood Immigration Centre after one of his colleagues had groped her , Luton Crown Court has heard.
The allegation was investigated by Serco in 2013, and the first trial scheduled for 2016 was eventually aborted because of illness. Now, four years after the crime allegedly first occurred, the case is being heard.
The crown prosecution’s case is that the victim was awaiting deportation after committing a crime, and was told she would be transferred to a prison if she complained.
34 year old Syed Hussain from Bedford stands accused of raping and sexually assaulting the woman in 2012.
His colleague Bodrul Islam, 30, also from Bedford, is accused of misconduct in a public office in 2012 by kissing and sexually touching the same woman. He denies the allegation, as expected.
Luton Crown Court was told that the 23 year old Roma woman was in Yarl’s Wood in the process of challenging plans to deport her back to Eastern Europe.
Prosecutor Christopher Donnellan QC, eloquently told the court that the woman was in a ‘vulnerable’ position when she arrived at the centre and, as she fought to stay in the UK, was ‘reluctant to rock the boat’ when the offences began.
Mr Donnellan said ‘Each defendant took advantage of a female detainee who was in their charge. She was not a free person”.
He insisted she was at a ‘disadvantage’ while she was held at the centre and for that reason was vulnerable.
”In many ways this case is about the abuse of power,’ said the prosecutor, who went on: ‘Detainees have to comply with the rules of the detention centre.’
The defendants were employed by Serco who operated the centre north of Clapham in Bedfordshire on behalf of the Home Office.
Each held a public office and were in a position of trust and accountable to the public as to the way they carried out their duties.
Donnelly added: ‘Each took advantage of a detainee in a sexual way to a different degree.’
Mr Donnellan said Mr Hussain had groomed the victim by flirting with her soon after she arrived at Yarl’s Wood.
He said when Mr Hussain had begun committing offences on the woman, which included touching her and getting her to perform a sex act on him.
The allegation against the second defendant, Mr Islam, is of a different nature. Prosecutor Donnellan said it was a ‘different relationship.’
‘She thought he was single and he seemed caring and she thought she was in a relationship with him,’ he said
As a result, she agreed to kissing and sexual touching between them, including a sex act on him.
Mr Islam was not charged with a sexual offence, but his conduct amounted to misconduct in a public office.
, Mr Donnellan said the 28 year old victim, who is now 28 had come to the UK as a child and had been born to a Roma family.
Her family arrived in the uk in 2000 and in 2006 they were given leave to remain in the UK, he said.
But in 2010 the victim, who by was 21, was convicted of an offence for which she was sent to prison.
While behind bars, the woman was served with a notice that she was to be deported and, at the end of her sentence, was transferred from the prison to Yarl’s Wood in the summer of 2012 ‘to await removal from the UK.”
”You will hear she was vulnerable because she had issues with her own state which included a history of self harming”
The jury was told Mr Hussain’s grooming of the woman began with flirting and flattery and hugs and kisses.
‘He asked her how long it was since she had had sex,’ said Mr Donnelan, and persuaded her to engage in sexual activity.
The prosecutor said that on two occasions when he had sexually assaulted the woman and carried out the rape of the woman, he knew she was not consenting.
The sexual assault was in the form of intimate touching followed by the performance of a sex act in front of her, after taking her to a room, shocked jurors were told.
Mr Donnellan said the rape offence occurred on November 29 2012 when Mr Hussain took the woman into a photo studio at the centre where detainees could have pictures taken of themselves and then send them to loved ones, friends and relatives.
At the photo studio he demanded to know why she was seeing his colleague, Mr Islam, who he derided as being ‘chubby.’
He is then alleged to have kissed her before dropping his trousers and forcing the woman to perform a sex act on him.
Mr Donnellan said ‘She was coerced. She was down on the ground, on her knees in front of him. She didn’t agree, she submitted. She had no choice, we say.’
The court heard that when the woman first made a complaint on December 1 2012 she only named Mr Hussain and didn’t refer to what had been going on with Mr Islam.’ This was mainly because she was a consenting party to the relationship with Mr.Islam.
However, when she realised Mr Islam’s had reacted negatively to the news that she had reported his colleague, she became disheartened. She realised their relationship wasn’t what she thought it was and she told the authorities at the centre ‘what he had been doing.’ The case continues.