June 2007

Man who raped boy, 13 jailed

A FATHER-OF-FOUR has been jailed for nine years after being found guilty of raping a teenage boy in a multi-storey car park.

Suleman Vapiwala, 45, escaped detection after his attack on the 13-year-old boy in Blackburn 1999.

But a drink-drive offence led to him being unmasked after a DNA sample linked him to the crime.

He denied rape, claiming the boy had consented to sexual activity, but a jury at Preston Crown Court took just 20 minutes to find him guilty.

Vapiwala, of Sussex Drive, Blackburn, who is separated from his wife, was given a concurrent two-year sentence for indecent assault, which he admitted.

He was also placed on the sex offenders’ register for life and will be subject to a sexual offences prevention order banning him from contact with under 18s without parental permission.

The judge, Andrew Gilbart QC, described Vapiwala as dangerous, and commended the victim for showing “considerable dignity”.

In passing sentence, Judge Gilbart said the victim had been an unhappy, disturbed child, hanging around Blackburn town centre for something to do. What the defendant did to him had a serious impact on his well-being.

He told Vapiwala: “You went into Blackburn town centre, I accept for innocent purposes, but you seized your opportunity to obtain gratification from a 13-year-old boy.

“This is a bad case. I am going to pass a sentence which makes it plain that those who prey on children in public places will be severely punished.”

He added: “You have not a glimmer of remorse. I also take the view you are dangerous.”

The court was told that the boy was left distressed and crying.

Vapiwala told the jury he met the boy after losing his money gambling. He admitted there was sexual contact but he denied rape, saying the boy had made advances to him.