An alleged victim of a Rotherham grooming gang was threatened with being ‘kneecapped’ if spoke to police about the brothers involved her abuse, a court heard.
The now 32-year-old woman known as Girl D told Sheffield Crown Court she had denied knowing defendants Arshid and Basharat Hussain when police first approached her in 2014 because she was ‘scared’.
Video evidence from the woman was played to the court on Tuesday, with her saying her abuse took place in the 1990s starting when she was 14.
Appearing in court behind screens to be cross-examined this morning, Tahir Khan QC, representing Arshid Hussain, asked why she had initially refused to speak.
She said: “I have been threatened to do my kneecaps in. My life was in jeopardy.
“My life wouldn’t have been worth living. They were threatening me, my mum, my family.”
She said she did eventually decide to speak to the police.
“No one would have believed us years ago. Today is my time to tell my story,” she said.
“I’m a victim of a very cruel, horrific crime. Nobody should be treated like that, nobody has a right to take over you.”
The woman has previously told the court Arshid and Basharat Hussain, who are among seven defendants on trial for playing roles in a Rotherham child sexual exploitation ring, took her to Sheffield with her sister to be sold for sex to men.
Mr Khan suggested that his client did not know the woman and she had been working as a prostitute on her own initiative to fund a £200-a-week heroin habit she had as a teenager.
She said she had ‘dabbled’ in heroin before meeting the defendants but had not been addicted at that stage.
The woman said her habit worsened after she met the Hussains.
“The defendants would take us onto Sheffield streets to get money and either give us drugs or a bit of money,” she said.
Mr Khan asked why the woman had not mentioned being prostituted in Sheffield until her second police interview and after speaking to Jayne Senior from the Risky Business service which worked with child sexual exploitation victims in Rotherham.
She said speaking with Ms Senior between the interviews had reminded her about incidents she had previously tried to repress.
“It was like opening Pandora’s box. I really didn’t want to remember all the bad things that were in there,” she said.
“It is summat I locked away in my memory and I didn’t want to unlock. I buried them.
“They were awful memories, they were disgusting - I wasn’t a person, I was a piece of meat and I didn’t want to remember that.
“It was awful, it was horrific.”
Gillian Batts, representing Basharat Hussain, said the woman had admitted having memory problems during her police interviews.
She asked whether it was possible in relation to an incident where the woman said Basharat had sex with her, that she had mixed him up with his brother ‘Bono’.
The woman said that was not the case.
The trial continues.