Boyfriend joked about forced marriage with alleged victim in weeks before sham holiday

The boyfriend of an alleged victim of forced marriage told a court she had joked about her parents "giving her away" weeks before she flew to Bangladesh on a sham holiday.

Leeds Crown Court heard the boyfriend, who is still in a relationship with the "highly westernised" victim, was told: "What if they give me away?"

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It was said after the 19-year-old victim's father started selling "stuff" before the trip which made her think he was saving up to pay for a wedding.

A court previously heard the woman was pulled out of school in Leeds and and deceived by her own parents into travelling abroad for an arranged marriage with her first cousin.

Her father threatened to "chop her up in 18 seconds" if the then 18-year-old refused to go through with the forced marriage, a jury was earlier told.

During cross-examination today, the boyfriend said his girlfriend had joked about her parents organising an arranged marriage three weeks before flying to Bangladesh.

"That's what I have been told by her," the boyfriend added. "I can only think of one thing knowing the Asian culture, that's a forced marriage.

"When it was said to me before she went it was a joke completely, I never thought in this day people still do that."

The boyfriend sent his girlfriend a message saying: "You could see this coming."

"In that moment it just kicked into me that we could have stopped this from happening," he added.

The victim told her boyfriend "don't message me for a while, I'll explain later", a court heard.

"It did not sound right for her to say that," the boyfriend added.

"I felt like something was clearly happening."

He told the court his girlfriend never mentioned the existence of a person who was being touted as a potential suitor before she left for Bangladesh.

The lovers, who met in November 2015, kept their relationship a secret from the girl's parents because they didn't "think they would approve".

The girl's parents had been separated for a number of years, the court heard.

The woman was eventually rescued by authorities, after secretly contacting her boyfriend in the UK.

Both of her parents are accused of forcing marriage and using violence or a form of coercion to get their daughter to enter into the marriage without her consent.

The defendants appeared in the dock today with the assistance of a Bengali interpreter.

The trial continues.