Rape accused found not guilty

16:11 13 December 2012

Robson House.

Robson House.

Archant

Men walk free from court after four-day trial.

Squatters accused of breaking into a Honiton hostel and raping two runaway 15-year-olds have been found not guilty of all charges.

Phillip Northmore and Ibrahim Jabri broke into the boarded up building which was being renovated and had allegedly used it as a base for a ‘dirty weekend’ with two 15-year-old runaways.

They took the two girls on a series of shoplifting trips around Honiton in which they stole vodka, lager, and alcopops.

They went back and had a party at the hostel in which they squirted tomato ketchup around the building and used it to write the words ‘Ha Ha’ on furniture, doing £3,000 damage.

They did not realise the CCTV system had been left on at the almost-completed hostel for care leavers, where one of them had lived before its closure.

They were filmed as they ran naked and half naked down the corridor and the girls staggered around drunkenly, bouncing off the walls of the Robson House building.

The two men were both cleared of rape at Exeter Crown Court after a four-day trial in which the two girls gave accounts of their ordeal which did not accord with the security camera evidence or what they told police and social workers at the time.

The men were cleared of burglary because they were squatters and there was no evidence they intended to steal or cause damage at the time they broke in.

Jabri, 20, formerly of Sidmouth, denied two rapes. Northmore, 29, of Wellington Road, Exeter, denied rape and sexual assault. They both denied burglary. They were cleared of all charges and released.

They have both been in custody for almost eight months awaiting trial, the equivalent of a 15 month sentence.

A third member of the group, Ashley Brennan, 20, of Pennsylvania Road, Exeter, and formerly of Lee Close, Honiton, has admitted having under age sex with one of the two girls and will be sentenced later.

The jury heard how Brennan and Jabri were former residents at Robson House who were homeless and living rough with Northmore in April this year.

They were filmed using a stick to break into the hostel where they were joined by the two girls, one of whom was Brennan’s girlfriend.

They had run away from social workers during a trip to a funfair and joined the three men.

The prosecution had alleged the hostel was being used as a honeypot for a dirty weekend and that one girl was raped by Jabri and the other forced to take part in two sex acts by Northmore after Brennan had been arrested for shoplifting.

One of the two girls was found hysterical and sobbing in Honiton High Street after running away from the house and texting her social worker with the word ‘help’.

Northmore, who was caught on camera coming naked out of a room where he had been with one of the girls, denied any sexual activity with her.

Jabri said the other girl had consented to sex.

Both men admitted they had gone on shoplifting trips to the Co-op, Budgens and Iceland over the two days, and had stolen alcohol.

They denied plying the girls with it or deliberately getting them drunk.

One of them said they were reluctant to share the loot, adding: “We had to work hard for that stuff, shoplifting it.”

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