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Two men convicted of rape of 17-year-old girl after Met investigation

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Two men convicted of rape of 17-year-old girl after Met investigation

Two men involved in the kidnap, rape and assault of a 17-year-old girl have been found guilty following a complex investigation by Met officers.

Following an eight-week trial at Isleworth Crown Court, Abdul Howe 21 (21.05.00) of Fortunegate Road, Brent, was convicted of two counts of kidnap, seven counts of rape, one count of possession of an item with a blade or point, one count of sexual assault by penetration, one count of false imprisonment, two counts of actual bodily harm and one count of perverting the course of justice.

His friend Ajani Williams 21 (23.09.00) of Keslake Road, Brent, was convicted of false imprisonment, actual bodily harm, five counts of rape and one count of perverting the course of justice. He also pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply a class B drug.

The work to identify those responsible and gather the compelling evidence that led to their conviction spanned two cities and was the result of a Met-wide effort co-ordinated by the Central West Public Protection Unit, which covers Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea.

DC Tony Larkin, who led the investigation, said: “The offences committed by these men against a vulnerable teenage girl are abhorrent and her account is one of the most distressing I have ever heard.

“They are extremely dangerous individuals and our city will be safer now they are off our streets.

“The victim in this case has shown incredible bravery, from initially coming forward and reporting what had happened to providing the vital evidence which secured today’s verdicts. We hope this shows how seriously we take allegations of this nature and that we will provide support at every step of the way to ensure justice is served.”

The victim, then aged 17, attended Lewisham police station in September 2020 to report that she had been kidnapped and raped.

She explained that she had been taken from her home in Ipswich by Abdul Howe, a man she initially got to know over social media before meeting in London. Howe had groomed and exploited her as part of his County Lines operation which ran drugs from the capital to Ipswich.

After first taking her to a hostel where she was assaulted with nunchucks and raped, Howe forced her to travel back to his home address in Hammersmith where his friend, Ajani Williams, was waiting for them. Over the course of two days, the pair repeatedly raped and assaulted her.

They then allowed her to leave but not before they had forced her into making a voice note that said she had consented to sex.

On reporting to police, the victim was provided with specialist support, including a dedicated officer from the Sexual Offences Investigation Team who developed a strong relationship with the victim and provided referrals to counselling service and support networks. The officer also spent time ensuring the victim got back into school where she could continue her studies.

Although the victim knew the suspects’ street names she did not know their real identities and so the officers’ first task was to work out who they were and track them down.

The Hammersmith address was identified by the victim but was vacant on police arrival. An image of a man who rented out the room was provided to officers – this was quickly identified as Howe. He was found at a linked address two days later where he was arrested and charged.

Detectives worked closely with the Met’s forensic teams and their examination of the crime scene in Hammersmith located a fingermark which when tested proved a match to Williams. This was a breakthrough moment in the case as up until that point, officers had no idea who the second suspect was.

He was subsequently circulated as wanted and despite going on the run in an attempt to evade police, officers in the Met’s manhunt team tracked him down to a hotel in Bayswater where he was arrested at the end of October in possession of cannabis with a street value of £7,500.

Searches of the hostel in Ipswich led to the nunchucks and a sword used to threaten the victim being recovered – the sword sheath had a fingerprint which identified it as having being used by Howe. Blue latex gloves were also located, with DNA proving a forensic match to Howe and Williams.

Detective Chief Superintendent Owain Richards, in charge of policing for Central West BCU, said: “County lines causes destruction within our communities and, as in this case, offenders often exploit and abuse vulnerable young people after gaining their trust.

“Our efforts to tackle this type of criminality and the supply of drugs are going on across our boroughs every day so that we can safeguard young people and remove those who cause such harm off the streets.

“I am immensely proud of all of the officers involved in this investigation and they were recognised for their efforts in our commendation event last year.”