Three jailed for raping and disfiguring girl with caustic soda
THREE men who filmed themselves gang-raping a 16-year-old girl before dousing her in caustic soda were today given prison sentences of up to nine years.
The girl, with a mental age of eight, screamed in pain as she was disfigured for life.
They later laughed while using their mobile phones to record her suffering on the first floor of an empty house undergoing renovation.
Her attackers were among a gang up to 10 who had hoped the powerful corrosive would destroy forensic evidence.
As she writhed in agony, they poured water on her, intensifying the burning.
The alarm was raised by a neighbour, who heard her "frantic" cries and found her covered with raw patches on her face and body.
Passing sentence, Judge Shaun Lyons said: "The most severe injuries and consequences came from the caustic soda. The victim has been left with severe post traumatic stress disorder and many, many physical difficulties."
He added: "It is doubtful what form her life will take and whether she can operate fully as a young woman in the future."
The judge said she will face bouts of severe depression, flash backs and suicidal thoughts.
Part of her victim impact statement was read to Wood Green Crown Court today, in which she said: "I have tried to forgive them for what they have done but it is so hard. I have to think about what happened... At this stage I don't know where to begin. I hope one day they will feel sorry for what they have done to me."
The court heard that more than half her body was badly burned in the attack and doctors feared she might die.
A year on from the attack, she still faces further surgery and continues to undergo counselling.
In the dock were Jamaican-born Rogel McMorris, 18, of Antill Road, Tottenham, north London, who was jailed for nine years after being convicted last month of two rape counts and one of causing grievous bodily harm.
Co-defendants Jason Brew, 19, of High Cross Road, Haringey, north London, and 20-year-old Angolan immigrant Hector Muaimba, of Guildford Road, Waltham Forest, E17, were both found guilty of one charge of rape.
They each got six years for attacking the girl, although a further two years was added to Muaimba's sentence for a separate Old Bailey conviction for robbery.
The victim's uncle said in a statement on behalf the family: "The past 12 months have been a very difficult time for us as a family. The trauma, stress, depression and hopelessness have all been too difficult to bear.
"We would not have been able to cope but for the great help and invaluable support from police, doctors and staff of the various hospitals and clinics who have attended to and continue to attend to our daughter, social services, our local MP and his staff, pastors and church groups, our two families and well-wishing members of our community. You all know who you are and we say many thanks to you all.
"We know the sentence imposed on the perpetrators of this hideous crime against our daughter, whatever and however we feel about it, will not bring sufficient justice and healing to our daughter. However, our hope and trust is in God, the supreme and ultimate judge of all, on whose justice we can rely."
The victim, who was in a coma following the attack, gave evidence via video link with the help of an expert psychologist.
Prosecutor Tom Little told the court the community had "closed ranks" in the wake of the attack, hampering the police investigation.
Speaking outside court Detective Constable Alex Newton said: "After all the work and the response of the community it feels like no sentence is any justice compared to what the victim has been through. But at the same time it sends out the message that these things will be prosecuted and the offenders will be brought to justice."
She said it was the biggest rape case Haringey police have dealt with, and that lack of co-operation by the community made it extremely difficult to investigate.
Det Con Newton added: "It doubled the amount of work to really get to the bottom of it and I don't think we ever really will."
The court heard that in January last year the girl, who has learning difficulties, went to McMorris' flat and was later taken to the unoccupied house in Tottenham, north London.
After being led upstairs she was attacked by him and the rest of the gang who had been summoned by phone.
Judge Lyons said: "The victim's life changed irrevocably. It changed for the worse. In her eyes, and those of her mother and many others, her life was ruined."
The court room was packed with friends and relatives of both the victim and defendants.
Muaimba could be seen smirking at times in the dock, while the other two remained expressionless and wore wooden crosses around their necks.
Issy Gillham from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "This has been a very upsetting case for everybody involved, and I and the whole prosecution team want to commend the victim on her incredible courage in giving evidence."
The Director of Public Prosecutions is currently overseeing a public consultation on measures to support victims and witnesses with learning difficulties.
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