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Boyfriend tells Leeds court of lover's worrying Whatsapp messages as 'parents tried to force arranged marriage'

Leeds Crown Court
Leeds Crown Court

A boyfriend told a court how he was "terrified" to receive worrying Whatsapp messages from his teenage lover after her parents allegedly tried to force her into a sham marriage.

Her parents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are accused of luring the then 18-year-old victim to a family holiday in Bangladesh with the intention of forcing her to marry her cousin.

Giving evidence today, the young woman’s boyfriend told how he became “terrified” and “scared” when he received worrying Whatsapp messages from her.

In a series of messages, the girl, who is now 19, allegedly told how her father said he would rather “chop her body into pieces” than lose his reputation if she refused.

The court heard the messages included a derogatory term used against teenager, and allegedly said: “My dad just sat on the bed next to me and said, ‘I brought you up for 18 years and it’s going to take seconds to slice your neck and cut your body into three pieces and throw you into the river'."

“My mum even told dad ‘hit her, hit her.’

“He’d rather go to jail than ruin his reputation.”

The victim secretly sent her location details to her boyfriend using various methods on her mobile phone including Find my iPhone and Instagram locations.

He became increasingly worried she was in serious danger and immediately alerted West Yorkshire Police on July 11, 2016.

Her boyfriend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told her to remain calm, and said in a message: “You will be ok princess, you will be home safe and in my arms and I am never going to let you go again.”

He then shared Whatapp screenshots with the police working with the English Embassy to locate her.

The court was told the woman, from Leeds, was eventually rescued by authorities.

Speaking from behind a screen at Leeds Crown Court, he explained how her parents were verbally abusing her into a forced marriage.

At several points during the three days of contact between the couple, the victim said she was feeling suicidal and would rather hurt herself than have to go through with the arranged marriage.

The court had previously heard how the victim was taken out of her school during term time for what she was told was a family holiday to Bangladesh in July 2016.

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.

Prosecutor Michelle Colborne QC told the jury on Tuesday (May 8) that it was less than one week after arriving in the country when she was told of the marriage plans.

She said: “So very, very quickly this was going to take place. She was stunned and she refused.

“He told her that [the groom] had been chosen for her, that he was suitable and talked of the plan.

“When she refused, she sought out the support of the other defendant, her mother, who made it clear that this was a shared plan for her future.

"Her mother swore at her, reminded her that no was not an option and that if necessary there would be violence against her.

"She was later to encourage her husband to strike her. At no point did she agree to the proposal and very quickly an impasse developed between them.”

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

The trial continues.