The Guardian, Tuesday 9 December 2008
A judge yesterday attacked the gang culture that led to the repeated rape of a 14-year-old girl by a group of nine teenagers as a "punishment" for insulting their leader.
The victim faced threats she would be stabbed, and was hit, spat on and orally raped at least 12 times as she was dragged by her hair around the stairwells of three tower blocks in east London, Snaresbrook crown court heard.
More members of Hackney's Kingzhold Boys gang, some as young as 13, were summoned by mobile phone and laughed and egged each other on as they took turns to assault the girl in April 2007. Some filmed parts of the incident.
"And all because an arrogant boy of 14 believed he had been disrespected; all because eight others believed that the gang ethos require them to support him and join in," Judge Wendy Joseph QC said during sentencing.
Last week she ordered that seven of the gang be named to deter others from similar crimes. The estates where the incident took place were the haunt of local gangs who "thought themselves outside the law of the land and subject only to the gang's laws", Joseph said.
Fear of the gang was the reason that not one of several adults who saw the girl surrounded by the youths during her ordeal, which lasted nearly two hours, intervened or called police, she added.
"The acts were designed to degrade and humiliate, to give a message to her and to send one out to others that no one messed with these boys."
The court heard that the gang's leader O'Neil Denton, nicknamed Hitman, and Weiled Ibrahim, Yusuf Raymond and Jayden Ryan set upon on the victim as she walked home one night and began the assaults because she had told Denton's girlfriend she thought he was "ugly".
Denton and Ibrahim were given indeterminate detention orders for the protection of the public for rape, kidnap, and false imprisonment, and must serve a minimum of three years and eight months before they are eligible for parole. They will be on licence for life.
Joseph said a pre-sentence report on Denton, now 16, pointed to "motives of revenge, sexual gratification and the exercise of power over both your victim and your gang". He still tried to blame the girl for "calling him names". Ibrahim, 17, had been as enthusiastic as his leader, the judge said.
Joseph said she was also concerned by the attitude of Ryan, who had shown "no remorse whatsoever". When questioned by a psychologist about how the victim would have felt, he said: "It's not a problem for most girls to be raped."
Others were also said to have expressed no remorse. Joseph said the gang included intelligent boys and those from stable and loving homes as well as those with difficult family backgrounds.
Above the teenagers were more senior "olders" whom they emulated and expected "to sort things out", rather than the police. "That attitude reflects a world in which a whole section of young people have abandoned what normal civilised society regards as right and wrong in favour of what the gang ethos regards as right and wrong," Joseph said.
Raymond, 16, received a nine-year sentence and Ryan, 16, got eight years, both for the same charges as Denton. Alexander Vanderpuije, 15, Jack Bartle, 16, and Cleon Brown, 15, each received six-year sentences for rape and false imprisonment.
A 14-year-old and a 16-year-old, who cannot be named, got two years and five months in secure local authority accommodation and three years and nine months respectively.
Speaking to the Guardian after the sentencing the victim, now aged 15, said: "Not one part of me feels even just a little bit sorry for them. They just took away my whole life. They might have got years in prison but I've got a life sentence."
The girl, who since the attack has suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, said: "Getting justice is the best thing that has ever happened to me. The one thing I want to do is get over it. I'm just doing everything I can to make myself a little bit stronger. Before I was thinking of taking my life but I'm still young and I've got my life to live."