Shop worker convicted of a series of rapes warned to expect a "substantial" prison sentence

The Advertiser Series: Hassan Akhtar pictured leaving Durham Crown Court during his trial. Picture: Andy Lamb Hassan Akhtar pictured leaving Durham Crown Court during his trial. Picture: Andy Lamb

A MAN convicted of a series of rapes of a “sexually naive” young woman was today (May 15) warned to expect a “substantial” prison sentence.

Hassan Akhtar, 37, denied four counts of rape and one of attempted rape, all said to have been committed from late in 2012, into the early months the following year.

Durham Crown Court was told the offending took place while he was living in the Stanley area of County Durham while working in a local shop.

Some of the offences were said to have been committed at his house at a time when his wife and family were out of the country, visiting relatives abroad.

The court heard how he told the victim he needed to perform the acts for his “pleasurement” and, when she objected and told him she did not like what he was doing, he just told her to “shut up” and carried on what he was doing.

In evidence she said she found his actions unpleasant, but was "uncomfortable" about telling her family explicitly what had taken place.

It finally came to the attention of police, in March 2013, when the victim told “more worldly-wise” friends what he did to her.

Her friends, "shocked" at hearing her use such unfamiliar language, believed what she told them and reported the allegations.

Akhtar was arrested and claimed what she was alleging never took place, accusing the victim of “attention seeking”.

But the court heard that forensic evidence emerged which implicated Akhtar.

The jury returned unanimous ‘guilty’ pleas on all five counts following 90-minutes' deliberation, on the fifth day of his trial today.

Judge Simon Hickey called for preparation of background reports on Akhtar by the Probation Service, prior to sentence, next month.

The judge asked the author of the report to consider if the defendant should be considered a potentially dangerous offender.

He warned him that whatever the contents of the report, however, the sentence would be of “substantial” length.

Judge Hickey remanded Akhtar in custody. Up to the outcome of his trial he has been bailed to an address in Dean Road, South Shields.

* Fifty-year-old Muriel Coleman, now of Churchill Square, Durham, previously admitted two counts of encouraging or assisting Akhtar to commit one or more of the offences.

She was bailed to return for sentence alongside Akhtar, at the court, on Friday June 6.

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