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article imageUK legal news: Child murder, slavery, and acid in the face

By Alexander Baron     May 17, 2013 in Crime
A child killer changes his plea to guilty in mid-trial; yet another gang is convicted of grooming underage girls; and a disgraced former Government Minister is released from gaol.
On May 13, Stuart Hazell changed his plea to guilty in his trial for the murder of his lover's grand-daughter. The body of Tia Sharp was found in the loft of the house she shared with Hazell, although by the time it was found, the pathologist was unable to specify a cause of death. He was given the mandatory life sentence with a tariff of 38 years.
Hazell was tried at the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey; over in Wales, Mold Crown Court has been hearing some equally harrowing evidence in the trial of Mark Bridger for the murder of April Jones. Tia Sharp was 12 years old; April was only 5, and, according to the prosecution, was lured off the street where she was playing with her friends, driven away, and murdered. On Wednesday, the court heard that Bridger had images of April on his computer. He claims to have knocked her down in his car and to have "lost" her body.
Again at the Central Criminal Court, another case saw a gang of paedophiles convicted in yet another grooming case. Previous cases relate to the Manchester area, but this one resulted in the convictions of seven men from the Oxford area. The case was probably moved to London to avoid local prejudice. Although it involved allegations dating as far back as 2004, this was in no sense another historic case as is those that followed in the wake of the Savile exposures. To date, only one of these has come to court, the case of Stuart Hall, although he has yet to be sentenced.
If you thought slavery had been abolished in the UK by William Wilberforce, you should think again. In recent years there have been some truly horrendous cases: there was Dr Rebecca Balira, who was given a six month sentence in August 2011 for holding a woman in servitude. There was the "homegrown" and truly odious Connors family who targeted vulnerable men; now there is the case of a man and two women who enslaved an Indian woman and treated her less like a slave than a chattel. The man, Enkarta Balapovi, was also convicted of rape, and received an 11 year sentence. It remains to be seen why his co-defendants, including a wealthy optician, received non-custodial sentences.
Meet Britain s modern day slavers: right to left: wealthy optician Shashi Obhrai; Shamina Yousuf  an...
Meet Britain's modern day slavers: right to left: wealthy optician Shashi Obhrai; Shamina Yousuf, and her rapist husband Enkarta Balapovi.
Metropolitan Police
Among the cases that have not yet reached trial are those of a young woman in the East End of London who had acid thrown in her face. This was reported here earlier this month; a photograph of the victim - known as Tara - has now been released, and terrible though her injuries are, they could have been far worse. A youth has now been charged but because of his age, 15, he cannot be named.
An earlier acid attack, that on shop assistant Naomi Oni in the same area of London, has seen another young woman charged with "throwing or casting a corrosive fluid with intent to burn, maim, disfigure, disable or do grievous bodily harm." This case is likely to proceed to trial in September.
Although perverting the course of justice is always a serious matter, the in retrospect ludicrous case of Chris Huhne and his vindictive ex-wife pales into insignificance in comparison with all the above. Mr Huhne, it will be remembered, was the Government Minister who threw it all away over what? His ex-wife Vicky Pryce was determined to cut off her own nose to spite his face, and ended up being sent down with him for 8 months. In the process she has also managed to torpedo the judicial ambitions of her friend and neighbour Constance Briscoe.
The former couple have now been released from gaol, Mr Huhne to rebuild his political career as best he can - although he will surely never aspire to high office again; Miss Pryce to publish a book. Unlike the poor wretches filmed for the recent and ongoing BBC TV series The Prisoners, for her, crime will surely pay.
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