Sex attack teenager slams Longleat after safari park manager jailed
Updated 12:56pm Friday 7th March 2014 in By Andy Baber, Senior reporter for Trowbridge
Longleat should have more stringent checks on people applying for jobs, according to a teenage sex attack victim who was assaulted by her boss, Yacine Abdi, while on duty at the park.
Abdi, 41, of Chestnut Close, Frome, was found guilty of touching two teenage employees at Salisbury Magistrates’ Court in January. This week magistrates sentenced him to 12 weeks for each offence, to run concurrently.
The first incident took place on April 14, 2012, at the adventure park in Warminster, and the second happened there on June 15 last year.
During the proceedings on Wednesday Michelle Hewitt, prosecuting, told the court that Abdi had a previous conviction for indecent assault in 2002, for which he received a community order.
Mrs Hewitt also said that Longleat had investigated the first incident of sexual assault. While bosses believed something had happened, they could not do anything as it was “one word against another”.
His second victim, whose identity is protected by law, was 17 at the time of the assault, said: “I didn’t think he would get a prison sentence, so I’m glad that he will be going to jail. Hopefully it’s a wake-up call for Longleat to do more proper checks on the people they employ.
“We were both shocked when we found out he had a previous conviction. Longleat should be carrying out CRB checks.”
In a statement, Longleat pointed out that it would be illegal for it to make DBS checks, which replaced CRB checks in 2012, for Abdi’s role, as those checks can only be made for employees fulfilling specific roles such as working with children or vunerable adults.
Longleat also said it has a thorough system to check potential employees as part of its recruitment process.
Abdi, who has a wife of nine years and two children, aged six and three, was working assistant food and beverages manager at Longleat at the time of the assaults and was both girls’ line manager.
Mrs Hewitt told the court that in the first incident Abdi had lifted the 19-year-old victim onto a kiosk counter and forced her legs open, pushing himself between her legs and kissing her on the lips.
The second victim was also working in a kiosk when Abdi ‘cuddled’ her and kissed her neck. She was “worried she was going to be raped”.
Peter Bush, defending, said Abdi maintains he is from a different cultural background, where “if people are upset, you put your arms around them and give them a hug”.
However, Mike Sutton, chairman of the magistrates, said that only a custodial sentence would be appropriate.
A Longleat spokesman said the company takes claims “extremely seriously” and an investigation was launched at the time of the complaint in April 2013.
He added: “Longleat have not been made aware of any previous charges made against Mr Abdi outside of this employment at Longleat.
"As a matter of law would not be allowed to make DBS checks in these circumstances and we therefore are not able to verify or comment on any further claims.”