The key defendant in the Rotherham child sexual exploitation trial has attended court for the first time in the case - but failed to give evidence as he was ‘too unwell’.
Arshid Hussain, 40, is accused of committing historic offences against nine now-adult women as part of a trial of five men and two women said to have played roles in a Rotherham child grooming ring.
Hussain, who is wheelchair-bound after being shot in 2005, has been participating in the trial via video link due to illness but attended court in person for the first time today since the trial started in December.
He appeared to be asleep at the back of court as a statement outlining his defence was read to the jury by his barrister after the court was told he was unable to give evidence in the dock.
Judge Sarah Wright told the jury: “The intention was that Mr Hussain was going to give evidence today. However I’m told that Mr Hussain feels he is too unwell to give evidence before you in this trial.”
Tahir Khan QC, representing Hussain, read out a statement on behalf of his client in which he denied committing any of the offences alleged against him.
In the statement, Hussain said he was ‘no angel’ but said he may have been ‘confused’ with his brothers by other people.
He said his nicknames of ‘Mad Ash’ and ‘Crazy Ash’ were not ones he had chosen.
He said: “I accept I was no angel but my father was successful and I had the benefit of nice motor vehicles and clothing.”
Hussain said he had not had sexual relations with eight of the women who have made allegations against him and had never met some of them.
He did accept having a sexual relationship with one of the women, Girl J, who he had a child with after she became pregnant at the age of 15.
The complainant, who is now 30, alleges Hussain started having sex with her when she was 14 and he was 24.
Hussain said: “At all times, I believed she was of consenting age, over the age of 16.
“I met her in a nightclub, she didn’t look under the age of 16. I thought she was 18 or 19, perhaps even older.
“She also told me she was 18 when we first met.”
Hussain added he considered himself to have been her ‘boyfriend’.
He said: “I was infatuated with her as much as she was infatuated with me.
“To suggest I have groomed her in any sense is completely wrong.
“She was my girlfriend and I was her boyfriend and that is what the relationship was.”
The trial continues.