R v Ali (Yasir Ifran)
Court of Appeal
Citations:  EWCA Crim 1279;  2 Cr App R 33.
The defendants were on trial for various counts of rape and sex trafficking. They had groomed troubled teenagers, plied them with alcohol and driven them out to remote locations to sexually abuse them. At trial, the prosecution argued that the girls’ apparent consent to sex was not real as a result of the grooming. The judge also directed the jury that ‘travel’ for the purposes of human trafficking could include short journeys by car or on foot. The jury convicted.
The defendants appealed their convictions. Regarding the rape charges, they argued that the girls’ consent was valid. Regarding the human trafficking charges, they argued that driving them a few miles to remote locations did not constitute ‘travel’.
- Can grooming vitiate a person’s consent?
- What constitutes ‘travel’ for the purposes of human trafficking offences?
The Court of Appeal upheld the convictions. The jury was entitled to find that, due to extensive grooming and vulnerability, the victims could not provide valid consent. The jury was also entitled to find that travel was contemplated, notwithstanding the fact that it was short.
This Case is Authority For…
In sex offences cases, the prosecution does not need explicit evidence from the victim that they did not consent. After all, the circumstances may have warped the victim’s perception of what happened along with their capacity to consent. It confuse the victim as to the boundary between mere acquiescence and consent.
Grooming a vulnerable person may (but does not necessarily) result in them lacking the capacity to consent. This is because grooming raises the likelihood that the victim is merely acquiescing rather than truly consenting.
Human trafficking requires the prosecution to show that the defendant arranged or facilitated travel intending to commit a relevant offence. The prosecution does not actually need to prove that travel occurred, merely that it was contemplated.
The relevant travel can be short, and victims can be ‘trafficked’ within a relatively local area. However, very minimal movement (such as walking between rooms) will not constitute travel.