Two Sunderland restaurant workers who raped a stranger have been allowed to spend Christmas at home with their families

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Two restaurant workers who raped a stranger in a car after lurking around a city centre looking for victims to target have been allowed to spend Christmas at home with their families.

Najirul Miah, 21, and Syed Ahmed, 22, attacked a woman who got into a silver vehicle with them after she had lost her friend and her phone battery had died during a night out in Sunderland.

Newcastle Crown Court heard she had offered to pay the two men to take her home when she could not find a licensed taxi.

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The attackers drove her to a deserted street in Hendon, where she was raped by both men, who treated her "like a piece of meat", then "discarded on the ground like a piece of trash", miles away from home.

Syed Ahmed leaving courtSyed Ahmed leaving court
Syed Ahmed leaving court | User (UGC)

During the ordeal she was told "you are going to have to do this", "be a good woman" and "do as we tell you".

Miah, of Ashwood Terrace, Sunderland, denied two offences of rape and one of sexual assault and Ahmed, of Chester Street East, Sunderland denies one charge of rape and one of theft of her belongings.

Both men denied a joint charge of false imprisonment.

Because of their denials, the woman has had to relive her ordeal from the witness box three times.

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Najirul Miah leaving court.Najirul Miah leaving court.
Najirul Miah leaving court. | User (UGC)

The first trial resulted in a hung jury and a second trial was halted due to legal reasons.

After a third trial, Miah was found not guilty of one rape charge but the pair, who have been on bail throughout, were convicted of all of the other offences.

Judge Sarah Mallett has adjourned sentence until next February and allowed the rapists, who have now been ordered to sign the sex offenders register, conditional bail until then.

The pair have been ordered to surrender their passports by 6pm on Friday, December 20, must not contact their victim and have to abide by a curfew as a condition of their bail.

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The judge said: "Due to their age and stable family circumstances I am going to enlarge their bail, and the time of year, to be fair.

"It is an unusual course really and nothing whatsoever should be read into it, apart from I am willing to delay the inevitable prison sentence.

"I do anticipate these defendants will attend. They would only make things worse if they didn't, I am sure they realise that. Likewise, if any efforts are made to contact the victim or any other witness, matters will only be worse."

Judge Mallett told the men they could "put their affairs in order" and added: "I am going to extend your bail, it is unusual but I do expect you to come on February 7 for your sentence.

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"If you don't, all you will do is add to the sentence you will be serving.

"You know you are going to be coming back to a custodial sentence."

Prosecutor Paul Cleasby told the court the woman had become separated from a friend she planned to share a cab home with after a night out in the early hours of April 10 2016.

The victim told police: "I was walking all over, looking for him, my mobile phone had died, I didn't have any battery to ring him and I didn't have any battery to ring a taxi.

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"It was really late, there wasn't many people around and wasn't many taxis."

The woman said she had noticed what she believed was unlicensed taxis operating in the area and got into a car she saw parked nearby.

She added: "There was two of them sitting in the front. Obviously if I hadn't been drunk I would have thought twice.

"They said they were going to take me straight home and I had to give them money.

"I said 'ok, I've got plenty of money in my bag'."

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The woman said when she climbed into the back of the silver vehicle she immediately felt "intimidated", then the men started to say her home was too far away for the amount of money she had, so she handed over her full handbag.

She said the men then told her she would have to pay by carrying out sexual acts.

She added: "They were driving really, really fast at the time.

"I thought 'I'm in trouble here' and I had my head down on my knees because I was scared.

"I didn't know where I was going, I just had my head down.

"I realised I had put myself into a stupid situation.

"I only got in the car because I had no way to get home.

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"At first I thought it was a taxi when they said they would take me home and just said give them some money."

The woman said she was taken to "the middle of nowhere", where each man took a turn to rape her in the back of the car, while she was "stunned and in shock".

She said during the ordeal she was "scared" and the alleged attackers spoke to each other in an "angry tone" and in a different language.

She added: "There was no way I could get out of the car."

The woman said after the attack she was dragged out of the car and added: "They just drove off, really fast, and left me there."

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She said she was "really upset" after the attack and spent about 25 minutes knocking on doors of houses to get help.

Mr Cleasby had told the court: "Had she been sober, she would, of course, have had second thoughts about approaching this vehicle but she was affected by alcohol and wasn't thinking straight.

"The prosecution say she was in a particularly vulnerable state and the defendants, who were the occupants of the silver vehicle, would have recognised her vulnerability immediately.

"It is the prosecution case that those defendants had, in fact, parked at that location in order to target drunk and vulnerable women, in order to take advantage of their vulnerability and commit sexual offences upon them."

During police interviews, and while giving evidence to the jury, the men claimed the woman had offered to do sexual acts in return for being taken home.