Groomed girl speaks out after 'dangerous' Barking dealer who dealt Class A drugs in East End is jailed
- Credit: MPS
A teenage girl who was stabbed in the hands by an East End dealer exploiting her as a drug runner has spoken of her ordeal.
Flo - not her real name - was 16 years old when the exploitation and abuse at the hands of Saif Abassi from Barking began.
Abassi, 24, was jailed for six years and five months after pleading guilty to a string of offences including assault, controlling and coercive behaviour and possession with intent to supply at Snaresbrook Crown Court on April 26.
Flo said: "I feel so much better now he is in prison. I feel like there is nothing he can do that will stop me.
"I can walk wherever I want, I can do whatever I want. I feel hopeful for the future now."
Abassi's crimes were exposed after Flo was treated for stab wounds, bruising to the face and a swollen lip at The Royal London Hospital.
Medics alerted the police, but Abassi handed himself in at Bethnal Green Police Station.
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An examination of Flo's mobile phone linked Abassi to the teenager. It led to him being issued with a child abduction warning notice, banning contact.
But in January last year, Flo was reported missing from care. Analysis of her mobile revealed Abassi was back.
Phone enquiries led detectives to a bedroom at the City View Hotel in Roman Road, Bethnal Green, on January 2.
There police found digital weighing scales, Class A drugs and mobile phones. It was then officers suspected Flo was being groomed and abused.
At the hotel, Abassi told Flo in Bengali to take the blame and say the drugs were hers. They were both arrested, interviewed and released on bail.
Abassi, of Charlton Crescent, was arrested again after being caught on CCTV dealing Class A drugs - which were hidden inside his mouth - at an estate in Brady Street, Whitechapel.
On February 12, Abassi was charged with a string of offences including human trafficking.
At Thames Magistrates' Court the next day, he pleaded not guilty and accused Flo of making it up. He later changed his plea.
About three weeks after his appearance in court, Flo told police she wanted to withdraw her allegations and evidence.
Abassi had been making calls to them both from his prison cell.
Det Con Dean Barnett explained how Abassi's "overpowering manipulation and bullying" while on remand in prison had scared the women into withdrawing her evidence.
He said there was "so much fear of violence": "Saif Abassi is probably the most dangerous, manipulative man I have ever come across. He's extremely arrogant. He doesn't seem to think he has done anything wrong."
During her ordeals, Flo was subjected to attacks fuelled in part by Abassi's anger at not selling enough drugs and his debts to another dealer.
Exploitation is on the rise, according to Det Con Barnett who said the problem is being tackled.
Telltale signs of grooming include victims being given expensive gifts, items of clothing or money.
Flo advised parents that every time their child walks through the door to make sure they’re okay.
"Even if your child doesn’t want to talk to you about this specifically, you will be able to see they aren’t in a good place, and that’s when you can look to get help from other people you trust," she said.