A DEBT-RIDDEN woman who helped a rapist find his victim has today (Friday, June 6) been jailed for eight years.

Muriel Coleman allowed the vulnerable teenager to be groomed and repeatedly raped by her landlord’s relative, Hassan Akhtar. He was jailed for 13 years for raping the girl over a three-month period early last year.

Sentencing Coleman at Newcastle Crown Court, Judge Simon Hickey said: “You exploited her, facilitating these awful acts against her.

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“Why would someone do such a thing is the obvious question.

“You were in debt - when the keys to your flat were handed over you owed £1,190 . . . .

“It was that need for money that provides the answer to why you allowed her to be abused.”

Akhtar, 37, denied the charges, but was convicted of four counts of rape and one of attempted rape following a five-day trial.

The court heard Akhtar had targeted the young girl at a flat in the Stanley, County Durham, and at his home in Northgate, Stanley, while working in a local shop.

Sentencing him, the judge said: “On a number of occasions you raped her in the privacy of your own home when you knew that your family and three young children in were in Pakistan.

“What is aggravating is that (the offending) was preceded by a period of grooming.

“You started gradually, first talking to her then kissing and cuddling her and then climbing naked into bed with her.”

As an inducement to allow him to have his way, Akhtar offered to buy her a puppy and help her forge a singing career, a jury at Durham Crown Court was told.

Despite the teenager asking him to stop the alleged rapes, Akhtar is said to have told her to "shut up, it’s just for my pleasurement”.

John Wilkinson, mitigating for Akhtar, said his attitude remained the same has it had at the trial.

Jonathan Devlin, mitigating for Coleman, said she was “perhaps one of the most hopelessly inadequate people to come before this court”.

Coleman, 50, last living at Churchill Square, Durham, pleaded guilty to two counts of encouraging or assisting a sexual offence.

She and Akhtar were both made subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for life.

After the two were led away the judge praised the victim saying she was “remarkable in the way she held herself together when challenged in court and gave her evidence very politely and clearly”.

He added: “I sincerely hope and trust she will go on as far as she is able to and put this behind her.”