An Iranian father accused of taking his teenage daughter for a virginity test because she had a secret boyfriend sobbed in the dock today as he claimed he wanted to check if she had been raped.
Ali Safaraei, 56, broke down in tears as he told Kingston Crown Court the case had ‘destroyed’ his family.
He said he tried to keep his 18-year-old daughter Sophia Safaraei, 18, ‘away from any danger and bad friends and social media’ but ‘unfortunately failed.’
It is alleged he and his wife Mitra Eidiani, 42, tried to control Sophia and threatened to kill her boyfriend Bailey Marshall-Telfer, 18, after discovering the relationship.
He said he arrived home after his wife told him a ‘stranger’ had been in the family home in Clapham, south west London, but had fled, Kingston Crown Court heard.
Talking about Sophia, his defence barrister Parveen Mansoor asked him: ‘You thought she might have been raped?’
Safaraei said: ‘Because of her reaction that’s right. To myself I was thinking maybe she has been raped.
‘I told her I’m going to the police and she said, “No, if you’re going to police, I’m going to put both of you in prison.”
Speaking through an interpreter, he denied he forced his daughter to go for a ‘virginity test.’
The Iranian father, who has lived in the UK for more than 30 years and said he was not a Muslim, said: ‘I just said check. I didn’t mention the virginity. The officer mentioned it, it’s not my words, he put it in my mouth, I just mention a check.
‘A check – body harm, rapes – anything is damaging her.
‘She said “nothing happened,” she said “I can prove it” then she changed her mind.
He added his wife booked an appointment with Dr Helen Lucas that night but at the appointment Sophia refused to be examined.
Yesterday jurors heard he told Dr Lucas he was going to report a ‘theft’ to police after she refused to carry out the test.
Asked how he felt, he said: ‘I don’t know, because that’s the first time she changed her mind.
Asked what ‘theft’ he referred to, he said: ‘Cash, money and gold coin.’
The court heard he told officers £500 and an Iranian gold coin worth around £200 had gone missing from a drawer in his sitting room.
He denied threatening his daughter with a kitchen knife or calling her a ‘prostitute.’
He also denied ‘controlling’ his daughter by taking away her bank card, passport, driving licence and mobile phone before he was arrested shortly after returning home from reporting the theft and that his daughter was missing.
Asked how the case had affected him, he broke down in tears, saying: ‘It destroyed my family.
‘I think I tried to be honest with my daughter and I tried to be helpful for her and I tried to keep her away from any danger and bad friends and social media but unfortunately I failed.’
Sophia Safaraei’s parents went to the London shop where Bailey Marshall-Telfer worked and told him they were Muslim, adding: ‘You have seen what our people do on the news’.
Today the court heard their defence, which said they reported their daughter had vanished and that £500 and an Iranian gold coin worth about £200 were missing from their home on May 19 this year.
Jurors were shown transcripts of their interviews with police – where Eidiani said £500 and a gold coin were missing from their home.
The court has heard Mr Marshall-Telfer was forced to jump out of the bathroom window when Eidiani surprised the pair when she came home.
In the police interviews, Eidiani said she was ‘sure’ Sofia had not taken the money because she had her bank card at the time.
An officer asked: ‘Are you saying that that was gone? Your husband is saying there’s some gold coins and £500 is now missing form your address.’
She said: ‘I’m sure she doesn’t because at that time she had a bank card.’
Meanwhile Safaraei told police: ‘It’s 500 and one gold coin. It’s a small gold coin from Iran. I think around £200.’
Eidiani also denies one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm when she allegedly bit her daughter’s arm in a struggle on the night she found Bailey.
Eidiani pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage, related to Mr Marshall-Telfer’s headphones, at an earlier hearing.
They were arrested after Sophia walked into Wimbledon police station, in south west London, saying she feared for her safety.
Kingston Crown Court heard how the young lovers were discovered when Eidiani suddenly arrived back at the family’s Wandsworth home in May.
Mr Marshall-Telfer tried to climb out of a bathroom window but Sophia’s mother found a pair of headphones he left behind.
Giving evidence against her weeping mother, the teenager said yesterday: ‘We panicked because we didn’t expect it to happen, so I had no choice but to tell him to go on the roof. We were both scared, we didn’t know what to expect and obviously it would be a shock for my mum. She did tell him not to come back and we should not have contact any more. She did break his headphones and Bailey was shocked when he saw them.’
The court heard Eidiani was later heard begging her husband ‘please, don’t hurt her’ before he came to her room and said they would see a doctor.
Speaking from behind a screen, Sophia told the jury: ‘I did get threatened – that if I didn’t go, stuff like I can get killed.’
The family went to a surgery but the GP declined to act, saying the teenager was an adult and did not consent before asking her in private if she was safe.
On returning home, Sophia claimed her mother became ‘extremely angry’ and bit her before her father threatened her with a knife. The teenager said: ‘My father then came into my room armed with a big kitchen knife and said you have to get checked. They were saying if I’m a virgin why can’t you prove it? What are you scared of?’
A photo of a large bruise on her forearm, allegedly caused by the bite, was shown to the jury. In the following days, the parents made life ‘extremely unpleasant’ for Sophia and Mr Marshall-Telfer, said prosecutor David Povall.
‘She was called a prostitute, her father threatened to kill both her and Bailey,’ he said. ‘She was told she was disowned, it was suggested she might be sent back to Iran to marry a cousin.’ Speaking via video link, Mr Marshall-Telfer told the jury he was confronted by the parents at the branch of Sports Direct where the young pair worked together.
He said Eidiani told him never to go near her daughter again, adding: ‘She went on to say that she is a Muslim and her husband is a Muslim and ‘you have seen what our people do on the news and stuff, we’re dangerous people, be careful’.’ Mr Marshall-Telfer said he was told Sophia’s father was ‘going to kill me’ and that there ‘would be a shadow around me’. In a statement read to the court, Dr Helen Lucas said she declined to treat Sophia because she did not want to be examined.
She said the girl’s mother ‘would not accept Sophia had any autonomy to make her own decisions and continued to draw unfavourable comparisons between her own culture and ‘your’ one, i.e. UK’. Referring to a private chat with Sophia before the family left, the GP said: ‘She told me that her parents had taken away her phone, were going to escort and collect her from school and she had stopped her part-time job where she met her boyfriend.’
The jury was told Safaraei is not Muslim and ‘would have been fine’ about his daughter’s boyfriend. The parents, from Clapham, south London, deny the charges against them.
The trial continues.