Cumbrian chef facing jail for sex assault on girls

15 February 2017 1:40PM

A judge has announced that a man who sexually assaulted two teenage girls is staring at a “pretty certainly immediate” prison term.

Mohammed Ali, a 46-year-old former head chef in Egremont, was given the jail warning after being convicted of four sex crimes.

Ali denied a string of allegations made by three females, all in their teens. He went on trial at Carlisle Crown Court having claimed that the alleged illegal behaviour never happened.

On Friday, a jury of six men and six women unanimously found him guilty of three sexual assaults and one attempted sexual assault. These offences involved two of the three girls, and occurred separately during a period between 2014 and 2016.

He was cleared of four other sexual assault charges.

During the trial, prosecutor Kim Whittlestone had told the jury: “The touching was sexual. It was inappropriate and it was unwanted.”

One of Ali’s victims said during her evidence: “He grabbed my bum; my bum cheek.”

She added: “I just felt uncomfortable. It was hard to imagine that that had just happened. I couldn’t believe it.”

Ali had also grabbed the bottom of the second teen, the court heard, brushed up against her and tried to touch her breast.

During the trial, Ali elected not to give evidence in his defence. But the jury heard his claim was that the incidents “didn’t happen at all”.

Upon learning of the jury’s guilty verdicts, Recorder Michael Murray agreed to adjourn the case to seek more information about Ali. He was said to have a wife based in this country and family in Bangladesh.

“It is probably best if I know more about the background of this defendant,” said Recorder Murray. But he said of the looming sentence: “It is pretty certainly immediate custody.”

The court heard Ali, previously of North Road, Egremont, and now of Middlesbrough, had received a six-month prison sentence in 2014. This was for “conspiring to assist an unlawful immigration”.

Recorder Murray said Ali would be granted bail until his sentencing hearing, on March 20 – but only after he had surrendered his passport.

“You have been convicted by the jury of four offences which are serious, and I have to tell you that the very likely outcome is a custodial sentence,” the judge told him.

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