Telford sex abuse trial: Accused helped navigate for a friend
A man who helped navigate for a friend as they picked up a teenager and took her to a house where she was allegedly sexually exploited has denied human trafficking.
Saleh Qasem is one of three men on trial for a string of offences in relation to the alleged victim, who was 15 at the time.
Shrewsbury Crown Court heard that Qasem and co-defendant Ghamer Sulayman were in the car on July 1, 2016, when a group travelled to Telford to collect the girl and take her to a house in Birmingham.
Prosecutor Mark Heywood alleges that several men abused her while she was in that house. In an early interview with police Qasem, now 20, denied having been in Telford that day, though his representatives have since said he was in charge of navigating on the way back.
For Qasem, Lesley Manley said that he thought Sulayman and the victim were boyfriend and girlfriend, and that he was in the car because he had been out with the other men.
The court heard that the car missed a turning on the way back because Qasem was distracted by music.
She said: “We have Saleh Qasem sitting in the front listening to music, so distracted he can’t even navigate properly.
"He is of no help whatsoever to anyone on that journey. How did he behave at the house?
"There is no suggestion that he does anything sexual in relation to the victim. He has no sexual intention towards her.
"Are these the actions of someone who is bringing a young woman from Telford to Birmingham for sexual exploitation, or is it more in keeping with someone who has gone on an outing with his mates and then gone back to Birmingham?”
Qasem, 20, of Runcorn Road, Balsall Heath, faces one count of human trafficking and one of sexual assault.
Sulayman, 23, of Mercia Drive, Kings Heath, Birmingham, denies one count of rape and two of human trafficking.
Ayad Hizam, 21, of Bridgecroft, Balsall Heath, also Birmingham, faces four counts of abduction and four counts of sexual activity with a child.
The trial continues.