Leading charities campaigning against abuse of people with learning disabilities have applauded a decision to increase the prison sentences given to two of the three men found guilty of gang-raping a 16-year-old girl with learning disabilities before they horrifically burnt her with caustic soda.
Deborah Kitson, Chief Executive of the Ann Craft Trust, which is based at The University of Nottingham, said: “The increased sentences show that these crimes of brutality and torture against people with a learning disability and other vulnerable children and adults will not be tolerated and that offenders of these crimes will be punished accordingly.
After the court case in January 2009 The Ann Craft Trust, Respond and Voice UK received unprecedented support for their criticism of what they called unduly lenient sentences which they said sent out the wrong message. Today they applauded the Attorney General’s decision to review the sentences.
Deborah Kitson said: “The level of public concern for this young woman and revulsion at the actions of these men was unprecedented. People with learning disabilities can face many hurdles in getting justice and fear not being believed if they come forward. Sentences such as those given in January can damage people’s confidence in the courts.”
In January 2008, the teenager was lured to an unoccupied house in Tottenham, North London, where she was gang-raped by up to 10 young men. The gang then covered her “head to toe” with caustic soda — a drain cleaner. The teenager suffered deep burns and has had to undergo repeated surgery since the attack.
Rogel McMorris who was sentenced to a total of nine years for two counts of rape and one of unlawful wounding had his sentence increased by five years. Jason Brew who was sentenced to six years for rape will serve a sentence of nine years. Hector Muaimba’s sentence of six years for rape will remain the same.
Richard Curen, Chief Executive of Respond, said: “This was a horrific and cowardly attack that scarred and traumatised this young woman both physically and mentally. These increases will help in a small way to undo the pain and suffering that she experienced. Sadly the psychological injuries caused during and after her ordeal will probably never go away.'”.
Kathryn Stone of Voice UK said : “These increased sentences reflect public concern at the leniency of the original sentences and send a clear message that such horrific attacks will not be tolerated.’
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The Ann Craft Trust works with staff in the statutory, independent and voluntary sectors to protect people with learning disabilities who may be at risk from abuse. We also provide training regarding sex education for people with learning disabilities. www.anncrafttrust.org.
Respond is a London-based charity which provides emotional and psychological support to victims of sexual violence and abuse who have learning disabilities. It also provides training and support to professionals and carers working with them. www.respond.org.uk.
Voice UK supports people with learning disabilities and other vulnerable groups who have experienced crime or abuse. We also support their families, carers and professional workers. www.voiceuk.org.uk.
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