August 2021

Shopkeeper gets suspended jail term for giving girls cigarettes for kisses

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A shopkeeper who gave two girls aged 13 and 14 cigarettes in return for kisses has been given a suspended prison term.

Gloucester Crown Court heard Fozlu Raman carried out the activity at his convenience store in Falkner Street.

The 54-year-old, of Barton Street, Gloucester, had denied two charges of sexual activity with children but changed his pleas to guilty as his trial was about to start.

The judge told him he was “a disgrace” to his family.

Raman admitted sexual activity with the girls between 1 and 20 November 2019 by intentionally kissing them in a sexual manner.

Prosecutor Christopher Smyth said the two girls regularly went to the shop, in the garage of Raman’s ‘Fish Bazaar’ shop, independently of each other to buy cigarettes, despite being too young to buy them legally.

The girls lied to Raman about their real ages but still admitted they were under 16, the court heard.

Mr Smyth said Raman asked them about their lives, and sold them counterfeit cigarettes.

The encounters escalated, Mr Smyth said, until Raman began kissing them in a sexual way, “and often this was accompanied by a free cigarette”.

One of the girls’ mothers overheard a conversation, which led to Raman being reported to police.

The court heard he had been previously convicted for selling counterfeit cigarettes.

Judge Ian Lawrie QC told Raman: “You chose in a calculated way to groom two very young girls with intimate sexual conduct.

“You realised they were young and you targeted them so that you could have sexual intimacy with them.”

He sentenced Raman to 15 months in jail, suspended for two years, and ordered him to do 150 hours of unpaid work, and pay £1,800 costs and a £149 victim surcharge.

Raman was also given a 10-year sexual harm prevention order and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for the same period.