Forced marriage bigamist given 16 years in jail in landmark case

A businessman has been sentenced to 16 years in prison at Merthyr Crown Court for forced marriage and sexual offences

A businessman has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for forced marriage and sexual offences.

In the first case of its kind in the UK since new legislation was introduced last year, the 34-year-old man from Cardiff pleaded guilty to four counts of rape, one count of bigamy and one count of voyeurism.

Merthyr Crown Court heard the already married man systematically raped his victim for months before threatening to go public with hidden camera footage of her showering unless she became his wife.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, developed an "irrational obsession" with his victim and lured her to his home under the promise of a get-together with friends.

But when she arrived at his home in Cardiff, the woman found the property empty before the curtains were drawn and the front door locked.

A judge then told of how the terrified woman - a devout Muslim - was bound and gagged with scarves before music was played loudly to drown out her cries for help.

A UK charity Karma Nirvana which supports victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage welcomed the sentencing calling the first criminal conviction a "huge milestone" .

A government poster on forced marriage

Judge Daniel Williams said the defendant used "constant threats" to try to keep his victim quiet.

"After you had raped her you produced a laptop which had a video of her showering after you had installed a hidden camera in a towel rail. You threatened that if she disclosed the rape to anyone, you would make that video public."

Merthyr Crown Court heard the man was possessive and controlling of his victim during the time they knew one another.

The Crown Prosecution Service in Wales said it hoped the sentence sent a message that forced marriage would not be tolerated in Britain.

The court was told the man's trial was aborted on the second day - just as his victim was due to give evidence in front of a jury - after he finally pleaded guilty.

Judge Williams deemed the man "a high risk" to women and described the offending as "planned...over a significant period of time".