March 2015

Schoolgirl waitress sexually assault by boss – Jailed

Lokman Gunbat.

A teenage waitress sexually assaulted by her boss has described him as a “disgusting” predator after he was jailed.

She said was terrified when Lokman Gunbat said he would pay her to lose her virginity to him while she was working at his Dalkeith cafe.

Gunbat was jailed for three years for a string of sexual assaults.

The girl was one of three under-age waitresses whom Gunbat preyed upon at ­Coffee Express, the cafe he ran at ­Eskdaill Court, Dalkeith.

The father-of-six inappropriately touched the teenagers over a year-long period – and his youngest victim was just 14 at the time.

Gunbat, who denied the allegations, was found guilty of four charges following a week-long trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Sheriff Michael O’Grady told the 37-year-old this week that he had no option but to jail him to “offer protection” to his victims.

The Dalkeith High pupil had just turned 15 when she started working at the busy local cafe.She said: “When you’re 15, you’re buzzing to get a job. I was so excited about it. I started off on a Saturday and then he asked me to go in on a Friday as well. After I started going in on Fridays, that’s when stuff started happening.

“He said to me, ‘what happens in these four walls will stay in these four walls’.”

She said she kept quiet at first as she was intimidated by Gunbat and worried that no-one would take her complaints seriously.

“It started off with small things, he would touch my bum. But he would say, ‘I didn’t mean it’. He used to come up behind me and push himself against me. But I was scared. I ignored it,” she said.

The youngster finally broke her silence and went to police when Gunbat cornered her in the stockroom, covered her mouth and inappropriately touched her.

She said: “I started panicking. I honestly thought I wasn’t going to get out of there. I shouldn’t have to be scared for my life. He was stood in front of the door. He was threatening me. He asked if I was still a virgin, and he offered me money and kept putting the sum up.”

When Gunbat found out that she had reported him, she claims he said he had the “best lawyers in Edinburgh” and told her she was a “stupid little girl who wanted attention”.

The trial brought back traumatic memories for the girl, who gave evidence behind a screen to avoid having to see her attacker in person.

She said: “Every time they asked me a question and I gave a brief description they would make me go into other details.

“I didn’t want my dad hearing what happened to me, and the extent. My dad broke down. It was the part about my virginity and offering to pay me money.”

The girl, now 16, added: “I don’t know if he’s done that to other kids. I just want people to know what he’s like. Just because [Lokman] is a family man, it doesn’t mean he is a nice guy. I’m a private person. At first I thought I didn’t want anyone to know. But I have stopped feeling like it was my fault. I started having nightmares about him. They had eased off but once the court case was coming up, they started again. I’m glad that something has come of it.”

The jury took just an hour to return a guilty verdict for all four charges he faced following a five-day trial last month.

Gunbat was found guilty of sexually assaulting the girl on various occasions between August 9, 2013 and October 5, 2013 at Coffee Express by seizing hold of her body, pressing his body against her, making sexually inappropriate remarks to her and offering money in exchange for sex.

He was also convicted of sexually assaulting her by seizing hold of her, placing his hand over her mouth, putting his hands down her lower clothing, touching her, lunging towards her and attempting to kiss her on the face on October 5, 2013.

The jury also found Gunbat guilty of sexually assaulting another 15-year-old employee at Coffee Express on September 15, 2012, by repeatedly touching her on the bottom and thigh on top of her clothing, and making sexually inappropriate remarks to her.

And he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl at his premises by putting his arms around her and attempting to kiss her between December 1, 2012 and January 31, 2013.

On Tuesday, Sheriff Michael O’Grady sentenced Gunbat, of Newtongrange, to three years in prison and put him on the sex offenders’ register.

He told him: “There’s no doubt in my mind that the facts require to be reflected in a significant custodial sentence. That is required to punish you to mark the seriousness of this conduct and to offer what ­little protection the court can to young girls who might be preyed upon by the likes of you.”

The girl hopes that Gunbat’s imprisonment will give her some closure and help her move on with her life.

The budding personal trainer is focusing on her upcoming Higher exams and preparing for college interviews.

She said: “I’m relieved that he was sent to prison. When my dad texted me saying he’d got three years I was speechless. I started crying, I didn’t know how to react. Just thinking about it just takes me back to that room. I know that a lot of local people go into that cafe, the older generation. They all know him, thinking he was a charmer. I want them to read about this and for them to know he is disgusting. It will be hard to trust anybody for a while.”

She said Gunbat, originally from Turkey, had affected her confidence and relationships with family members.

She said: “I shut myself away from everyone, I shut myself away from my friends and didn’t speak to my dad.

“I know [Gunbat] would have done it again, but even then he pleaded not guilty. He was so smug and thought he was going to get away with it.

“I didn’t want to be reminded of back then, I changed the way my hair looked and everything. Not many of my friends knew, but once they found out, they have been there for me.” Father Billy said of Gunbat: “He’s a predator. My daughter has had to relive it, the other two girls have had to relive what they went through, and put up with being cross-examined. She just told the truth and gave her answers. It set all the emotions off. It brought it all back.

“I feel sorry for his wife and her kids. It’s not my daughter’s fault, she was assaulted. Even when the police were investigating him on a similar charge, he went on and did it again, employing girls and continuing to do it. He was just a sexual predator.”

It is understood that Coffee Express will be run by Gunbat’s business partner while he completes his jail sentence.