By Sadie Robinson
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Witness in Rotherham sexual abuse trial says she was abused when aged 15

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Issue 2484
Rotherham (Pic: Socialist Worker)

A witness giving evidence to a major sexual abuse trial has told a court that she was abused when aged 15.

The court heard that the witness told authorities in 1992 that she was put under pressure to prostitute herself with taxi drivers who knew Karen MacGregor.

MacGregor is one of seven defendants on trial charged with sexual exploitation offences that allegedly took place in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

The others are Shelley Davies, Arshid Hussain, Basharat Hussain, Qurban Ali, Majid Bostan and Sajid Bostan.

All deny over 60 charges including rape, conspiracy to rape, indecent assault, false imprisonment and abduction.

The prosecution has argued that MacGregor “deliberately set out to make girls available for sexual encounters with older men”.

The witness gave evidence to Sheffield Crown Court on Monday of this week. She is not one of the 12 alleged victims who are the complainants in the trial.

She had been living in a children’s home when she started going to MacGregor’s house. She told police that things were nice at first but then MacGregor “started telling us we needed to earn our keep”.

She said, “I took that to mean we would have to start sleeping with Asians. Karen wanted to pimp everybody out, that’s what Shelley was for, looking back on it. It was like Hansel and Gretel living at Karen’s – it was all nice and shiny and inviting and then it turned quite horrible.”


The woman said she woke up at Karen’s house one night to find a group of men in her bedroom. “I remember one of them being over me instigating to have sex,” she said. “I recall one went outside talking to Karen – they said I was being mardy and she said: ‘Don’t worry I’ll sort it.’”

The alleged victim also said she was sexually assaulted in a car.

Robert Wyn Jones, defending MacGregor, said the council had paid MacGregor for the witnesses’ keep. He said police would often visit MacGregor’s home to look for another female lodger who regularly went missing.

MacGregor denies conspiracy to rape, false imprisonment and conspiracy to procure a woman under 21 to be a common prostitute.

Under cross-examination the witness accepted that her memory about events at the time was unclear. She said, “I might not have a good memory. But you can’t forget feelings.”

An alleged victim gave evidence in court on Friday of last week. She said she was taken to live in Karen Macgregor’s house in the late 1980s when she was 15 or 16 years old and homeless.

She said she was assaulted by a man after getting drunk in the house one night. “I shouted help twice, really loud, nobody would come upstairs,” she said in a police interview played to the court.

She said MacGregor bought girls staying at her house everything they needed but treated them like “slaves”.

Under cross-examination the alleged victim agreed that she didn’t feel in danger in MacGregor’s house. She also agreed that she didn’t know what MacGregor had done on the night of the alleged assault because she had passed out.

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