“If I will not return home, then blame only them and never forgive them.”
Three Asian men and two Latvian nationals have been jailed at Manchester Crown Court for crimes relating to human trafficking.
Their victim is a 36-year-old Latvian woman, tricked into coming to the UK and forced into a sham marriage with a Pakistani man.
Mohammed Akmal, her ‘husband’, is found guilty of ‘conspiracy to seek to remain in the UK by deception’.
The 32-year-old will face deportation after serving his prison sentence of one year and eight months.
Aqib Latif, who paid for the victim’s flight, is sentenced to two years and six months for ‘human trafficking for exploitation’.
Rashid Ahmed, a takeaway owner, is found guilty of ‘conspiracy to seek to remain in the UK by deception’
The 51-year-old witnessed the sham marriage and signed the documentation. He is jailed for nine months.
The two Latvians, also involved in the trafficking and unlawfully imprisoning the victim, will also spend time behind bars.
Hanan Butt, who is described as playing ‘the most significant role’ in the crime, pleaded guilty to human trafficking.
The 27-year-old is sentenced to two years and eight months in prison.
Jekaterina Ostrovska, is given two years and six months after pleading guilty also to human trafficking.
The victim arrived in the UK in July 2013, under the promise of a job that would allow her to work with the children of Latvian families.
Butt collected her at Luton Airport and took her to his home in Slough, where he lived with his wife Ostrovska.
The victim was arranged to take part in a fake Islamic wedding ceremony in Birmingham with Akmal, who hoped the marriage would help extend his stay in the UK.
The ‘newlyweds’ lived in Birmingham briefly, before moving to Longsight in Manchester to be closer to Akmal’s family.
She was kept in two houses, both of which were heavily guarded to make sure she could not escape.
For around 14 months, she was living in a small attic bedroom in a house where Akmal’s family lived, as well as a house built with metal bars over the windows.
She was left vulnerable and without the means to ask for help, as she did not have good understanding of English and her passport was taken by the traffickers.
She was only allowed supervised phone calls to her mother in Latvia and had no clue where she was in the UK.
Eventually, she was able to locate her whereabouts with a partial address torn from letters mailed to the house.
The victim contacted her mother, who then informed Interpol in Latvia to rescue her daughter.
The police raided one of the houses in Manchester and found the victim in the other house nearby, and freed her on August 19, 2014.
Her desperation of being imprisoned was painfully clear in a note that she wrote and recovered by the police.
It reads: “I will not forgive them for what they have done to me. If I will not return home, then blame only them and never forgive them.”
Judge Patrick Field QC condemns all defendants for treating the victim ‘in various ways as a commodity for the sole purposes of being exploited’.
Detective Sergeant John Robb comments: “This poor woman has endured a horrific ordeal at the hands of these men and women.
“She was there to serve a purpose to them and that purpose was nothing more than providing an opportunity for Mohammed Akmal to avoid deportation and stay in this country indefinitely.”
Speaking through the help of an interpreter at court, the victim says: “I was scared. I thought they can do anything they want with me. I want to put all this behind me now and start afresh.”