Asylum seekers in your neighborhood anyone?
Case against ‘Syrian refugees’ accused of gang raping teenage girl descends into chaos as they argue and wail in the dock
Both of the defendants in the dock at Maidstone Crown Court yesterday are asylum seekers who claim to be 17-year-old refugees from Syria, but immigration officials say one of them is from Egypt.
- Questions emerged regarding their identity and whether they should be treated as juveniles
- Two young men are accused of being among a group who took turns to rape an ‘extremely vulnerable’ 18-year-old girl
- Immigration officials have judge one of the defendants is actually from Egypt
Two asylum seekers openly argued with a judge yesterday as they were accused of taking part in the gang rape of a schoolgirl.
The young men wept loudly, held their heads in their hands and gestured at the court as they protested their innocence.
Judge Charles Macdonald QC was forced to intervene because of the noise, telling them: ‘You will not speak in the dock.’
The pair are accused of being among a group of men who took turns to rape an ‘extremely vulnerable’ 18-year-old girl. The attack shocked veteran police officers in a Kent town where they were living as Syrian refugees in a taxpayer-funded hostel.
But their case quickly descended into chaos yesterday as questions emerged over exactly how old they are and whether they should be treated as juveniles.
Before one of the men could answer questions about his age on oath, he smashed his head into the wall of a cell during a break and was taken to hospital.
As a result neither of the men can be named under laws designed to protect the identities of juvenile defendants until a further hearing.
This is despite the fact that one of them is being held in an adult prison after magistrates ruled he is in fact 18.
The case concerns the appalling attack of a girl at the refugee hostel in Gillingham, Kent, on the night of Halloween.
She and a male friend met a group of young men in the street and were persuaded to go back to their home. But when she arrived she was allegedly dragged to an upstairs bedroom, stripped naked and repeatedly raped by up to four men as others watched.
She finally escaped after punching and headbutting the men as her friend ran into the street and persuaded a neighbour to intervene.
Both of the defendants in the dock at Maidstone Crown Court yesterday are asylum seekers who claim to be 17-year-old refugees from Syria.
But the court heard how immigration officials have judged that one of them is in fact from Egypt.
He faced deportation next month. Wearing jogging bottoms and sweatshirts, the two defendants appeared confused by the proceedings.
They are both represented by a barrister and a lawyer and an Arabic interpreter sat in between them throughout the 90-minute hearing.
A social worker from Kent County Council was also present in court, who explained that the pair have been repeatedly assessed by youth workers and immigration officials.
The age of the defendant who injured himself is recorded differently by police, the prisons and the courts – with his year of birth being either 1997 or 1998, the court heard.