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Review bid over trafficker sentence
The sentence given to a pensioner for repeatedly raping a deaf and mute girl he trafficked into the UK to work as his domestic servant could be "unduly lenient", according to a Government law officer.
Solicitor General Oliver Heald has asked the Court of Appeal for permission to refer the case of Ilyas Ashar, who was jailed for 13 years in October for subjecting his victim to a life of "misery and degradation".
Ashar sexually abused the youngster from the moment he brought her into the UK from Pakistan aged around 10 in June 2000, Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester heard.
The girl, who is profoundly deaf and cannot speak, was beaten and forced to sleep and work in the cellar of Ashar's five-bedroom family home in Cromwell Road in Eccles, Salford.
While Ashar exploited his victim to satisfy his sexual desires, the girl was also used to steal more than £30,000 in benefits.
Ashar was convicted of 13 specimen counts of rape by a jury in October and h e had also been convicted at an earlier trial of two counts of trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation, two counts of furnishing false information to obtain a benefit and one of permitting furnishing of false information to obtain a benefit.
The five-year sentence given to his wife, Tallat Ashar, for two counts of trafficking a person into the UK for exploitation and four counts of furnishing false information to obtain a benefit could also be reviewed.
A spokesman from the Attorney General's Office said: "After careful consideration, the Solicitor General, Oliver Heald QC MP, has decided to ask the Court of Appeal for permission to refer the sentences of Ilyas and Tallat Ashar as possibly unduly lenient."
Passing sentence on the pair Judge Peter Lakin said they were "deeply unpleasant, highly manipulative and dishonest people".
He told them: "You Ilyas Ashar and you Tallat Ashar did not treat this girl as a human being. To you she was merely an object to be used, abused and cast aside at will.
"You took full advantage of her extreme vulnerability. You exploited her physically, you exploited her mentally and you exploited her economically.
"There was throughout a distasteful undercurrent of violence and intimidation.
"All that she had in her life was the love of her family and her own human dignity. You two took that away from her. You consigned her to a life of misery and degradation."
Labour MP Frank Field, who is leading the review of evidence for the Government's planned Modern Slavery Bill, welcomed the Solicitor General's move.
He said: " Modern slavery is a heinous crime and I welcome the Government's decision to review the sentence given to Mrs Ashar.
"The effectiveness of the Modern Slavery Bill will be partially judged on the Government not having to review sentences at all as we will be starting from the basis of life sentences."