A court in Lancashire has been shown disturbing CCTV footage of the moment three siblings from a Muslim family attempted to kidnap the lesbian lover of their sister.
Sarah Harrison was attacked as she left work at a shop in Blackburn. Ms Harrison, 35, was targeted after starting an affair with Nazma Ditta, 27, whose family had arranged a marriage to a Muslim man for her.
One of the three sisters involved in the attack is said to have shouted “You’ve messed with the wrong Muslims” as they repeatedly hit Ms Harrison and tried to drag her away by her hair to a waiting car driven by the sisters’ brother Tahmoor Ditta.
Nazma, one of nine children of Bangladeshi parents, had begun a secret relationship with Ms Harrison early last year after meeting at the USC clothing store where both women worked. She was the only unmarried girl in the family and had rejected several marriage proposals.
On 20 June, Ms Harrison was confronted outside the shop by Nazma’s older sisters Atfah and Ghazala who were then joined by another sister, Nighat. The sisters tried to grab Ms Harrison’s handbag and repeatedly kicked and punched her.
The victim however managed to avoid being bundled into the car by clinging on to its door and a passerby raised the alarm before the siblings fled.
Preston Crown Court heard that members of Nazma’s family, including her mother Rani, had confronted Ms Harrison at the shop and followed her to her car after work. They are also said to have spoken to her other colleagues about her movements.
Miss Harrison later told police: “I can’t work comfortably now and I think about people throwing acid in my face. Anyone Asian I don’t know could be associated with the people who attacked me. I have trouble sleeping.
I have to sell my house and move somewhere where Nazma’s family won’t find us. I have had to find a different job which is not easy because I loved my work.’
The three sisters were each jailed on Friday for five years and four months after admitting to conspiracy to commit actual bodily harm while their brother Tahmoor was sentenced to six years.
Two other sisters, Tosif and Nayyar were imprisoned for three and a half years for the same charge. The siblings’ mother, Rani Ditta, 55, had been charged with conspiracy to kidnap but in November the prosecution offered no evidence against her.
According to reports, Nazma was so scared of her affair being uncovered she spent months secretly moving her belongings to Ms Harrison’s home in Blackpool.
Suspicions about the lovers began after a niece of Miss Ditta spotted messages and photos shared on her relative’s mobile phone. Miss Ditta denied an affair but was ordered to stop any sleepovers at the homes of friends.
After her family set a date for a wedding, Nazma outwardly agreed but began making secret preparations to disappear. She later told her family that she had secured a job in Manchester and would be moving out.
In May 2013 she finally left the family home, leaving just her email address as her only contact and changing her telephone number.
Nazma’s family later went to the shop asking about her whereabouts and repeatedly emailed her until she confessed she was gay.
A family meeting was later held at a coffee shop in Blackburn during which Miss Ditta said she would not get married but agreed to return home to say her goodbyes. Soon after, her siblings and extended family began disowning her.
Judge Graham Knowles QC, sentencing the defendants, said: “This is a case about power and control. It is about striking terror and attempting to control not just the body but the will. This was a group ambush and you struck with the terror that all of you intended.”