Student accused of multiple rapes turned to drugs after uncle Tipu Sultan’s murder, court told

Sharif is on trial at Newcastle Crown Court.
Sharif is on trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

A high-flying student accused of being a serial sex attacker and drug dealer has told jurors his life spiralled out of control after his uncle was murdered.

Omar Sharif, who was named after the famous movie actor, had dreams of becoming a military pilot or barrister, drove a Mercedes with personalised plate and was on track for a first class degree in Geography from Northumbria University.

But the 22-year-old, from Sunderland, is now giving evidence from the witness box at Newcastle Crown Court where he is on trial accused of series of serious sex and drugs offences, which he denies.

Sharif, who has earned certificates for his charity work, said he became trapped in a world he "couldn't get out of" after turning to drugs to cope with the trauma of Tipu Sultan's killing, who he said was "more of a father to me than an uncle".

Mr Sultan was gunned down at his family take-away shop in South Shields in April 2015.

Sharif appeared to fight back tears as he told jurors he saw the horrific aftermath of the murder when he arrived at the shop that night.

He said: "He was shot at point blank with a shotgun.

"I saw my uncle lying on the floor in a pool of blood, it was a pool of blood.

"Everyone was screaming. My grandad called an ambulance.

"I held him, I said 'don't die, please don't die'.

"He was unconscious, I was soaked in blood, I kept saying 'don't die'.

"I could see a hole in his neck."

Sharif said before the tragedy he had never taken drugs and had no interest in them.

He added: "I had a plan on life, my plan was to be an army officer or barrister, not a drug dealer.

"There was everything going for me, there was no need to touch drugs.

Sharif said he had had an extremely close relationship with Mr Sultan, who was his mother's brother.

He told jurors: "If my mother said don't give me sweets, he would give me sweets.

"Every time I used to get into trouble I went to him, I stayed in his house, he would be the person who would bring peace to me and my family when we rowed."

Sharif said he first tried drugs about a week after Mr Sultan's murder, during a gathering at his family's home.

He said he was offered the MDMA powder from friends, who told him it would "make him feel a bit better".

Sharif added: "I took it, that was the very first time, I took a line of drugs.

"When it kicked in it was as if I was happy, like a forced happiness but I was happy, I wasn't crying so much, I was just happy.

"Then, when it wore off, I was back to being sad."

Sharif said his first taste of drugs quickly developed into an expensive habit which he could not break and added: "I couldn't, I needed it, I couldn't forget the images I saw when I went to that takeaway, no 20-year-old should see that kind of thing."

Sharif said he ended up selling drugs to support his increasingly expensive usage and his university work and attendance began to suffer.

He added: "I still had dreams to be a barrister. I was just in that world and I couldn't get out."

Sharif, of Brunton Terrace, Sunderland, has admitted some drugs offences but denies three charges of supplying MDMA, five charges of rape and one of sexual assault in relation to three women.

One of the rapes is alleged to have happened in Sunderland, where he is accused of attacking a woman after giving her drugs.

Sharif said the woman was a willing participant to what happened and that she was "normal, just herself, confident and bubbly" when she left.

The trial continues.