Justice at last – woman finally sees her childhood abuser jailed, 25 years on
A woman who has been fighting for her childhood abuser to face justice since she was a schoolgirl has finally seen him jailed – over 25 years after she first spoke out against him.
Imtian Aljoffrey-Uppal was a well-respected computer scientist from a family who had fled Idi Amin’s regime in Uganda.
But, behind the mask of respectability, he was a predatory paedophile. Yet, the victim left scarred by his abuse was repeatedly told there just wasn’t enough evidence to bring him to justice.
The woman, who was a child in the 1980s when the assaults took place, gave statements to police twice in the 1990s, and again in 2014.
When she first spoke out, she was a girl of 11. Despite her young age, she was determined to see justice done.
But twice it was decided there was insufficient evidence to take the case to court.
In 1991 Greater Manchester Police investigated the case but chose not to refer it to the Crown Prosecution Service. In 1996 the police did refer the case to the CPS, who gave advice about the evidence to GMP, but again, no action was taken.
It’s only now that Imtinan Aljoffrey-Uppal, who is 64 and from Stockport, has finally been jailed.
The result came after the woman’s 2014 account to police finally led to a prosecution being brought.
But even then the ordeal wasn’t over – there was a two-and-a-half year wait for the case to get to court, and then a trial ended with the jury unable to reach a verdict. Finally, after a second trial, Aljoffrey-Uppal was found guilty of five sexual assaults.
Now a mother, the victim said of her ordeal: “It has broken me. My son is the only thing that has kept me going, because I have to be here for him.
“I don’t know how I will get back to my normal self but it had to be done. It was the right thing to do.”
Uppal was jailed for four years – but is now seeking leave to appeal his conviction.
When the victim originally told police about the abuse it was just two years after it had ceased.
She first told a relative who urged her to tell her mother.
“My mum was horrified and shocked but she believed me”, she said. “She called the police and we went to a police station and I made a statement, social services got involved and I was sent to counselling”, the woman told the M.E.N.
“The next thing I heard was nothing could be done. My mum sat me down and had to explain and explain again. I could not comprehend. They decided there was not enough evidence – my word against his – and no material evidence – although I am living, walking, talking evidence.
“He was arrested and questioned, and no further action taken.
“As a child you are conditioned to think that when you do something wrong you are accountable for your actions. So I couldn’t understand how this person could do something wrong and nothing happen.
“I went off the rails. I started not coming home from school. I had to see a psychiatrist.
“I ended up going round his place of residence and vandalising his car, scratching it up, thinking it would give me some justice – it didn’t.”
In 1996, after another person made allegations of historical sexual abuse against Aljoffrey-Uppal, the woman was asked by police to make a new statement. She agreed, hopeful he would finally be prosecuted.
But the CPS decided not to proceed in either her case, or that of his other accuser.
The victim said: “At this point it’s not just the abuse itself, its the system that’s the problem – that’s adding to my mental health problems. They were preventing me from getting justice.”
But, in 2014, she tried again, prompted by the celebrity historic abuse scandal.
“I started seeing on the TV all the stuff about Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall, all these celebrities abusing people”, she said. “Their victims were lucky because the paedophiles that attacked them were posted all over the news. I did not have that privilege.”
She called police using the 101 non-emergency number and ended up making a third statement.
“I made the video statement in September 2014 and they said it would take the CPS six weeks to make a decision and the course to trial should be 12 months”, she said.
“It took them six months to make a decision to charge him. But I thought, well, it’s progress, times must have changed.”
But even though the abuser was charged in April 2015, it was not until January 2017 that he went on trial.
At the first trial the victim spent a day-and-a-half giving evidence and being cross-examined.
She had to endure suggestions that her claims were lies, and that she was only doing it for compensation.
The jury found Uppal not guilty on one of the six counts of sexual assault, but failed to reach a decision on the remaining charges in that first trial.
A retrial was held in October and this time Uppal was found guilty of five counts of sexual assault.
He received four years imprisonment for counts one to four and 12 months for count five, to run concurrently. He can expect to spend half that time in jail before being released on parole.
A friend of the victim said: “In court the judge said Uppal had destroyed her. She has spent a lifetime getting justice and he could be out of prison in two years.”
The victim said: “My barrister said it was a rare and unusual case as I had come back twice to report the abuse.”
Her friend added: “Uppal was very arrogant throughout the trials. He thought he had got away with it. His face dropped and he shrivelled into a small child when the guilty verdicts came back.”
Joanne Cunliffe, Head of the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit, CPS North West said: “Thanks to the tremendous bravery of the victim in this case in giving evidence in court against the man who abused her, and having to give evidence twice because there was a retrial, this offender has now been convicted and jailed for the appalling sexual abuse he perpetrated against her when she was a child.
“A great deal has changed in how the police, CPS and courts deal with cases of child abuse and sexual offences in recent years. There have been many developments in the law about sexual offences and in the training and guidance for police, prosecutors and judges.
“This has led to many cases which would not previously have been brought before the courts now being successfully prosecuted. There are also many more ways in which we can provide support for victims during the court process than there used to be.
“I realise that it has been a long and difficult process for the victim in this case to achieve justice. I hope that the conviction and jail sentence that Imtinan Aljoffrey-Uppal is now serving will provide a measure of justice for her and I hope it will show to other victims that we do take these cases very seriously and wherever we can we will bring them to court.”