A VULNERABLE schoolgirl was forced into prostitution after running away from home following a row with her father.

The 16-year-old Brighton girl was picked up by an older man who manipulated her over several days with sex, drugs and alcohol, before she was introduced to two men who paid a total of £100 to sexually abuse her.

Yesterday those three and a fourth man were convicted of conspiring to arrange the prostitution of a child, in the first case of its kind in Sussex. Two other men were cleared of all charges.

Christopher Kayla-Joseph, now 27, started talking to the teenager, now 18, in Eastbourne after she had caught the bus there following the argument with her father, on an evening in May 2013.

He invited her back to his flat in Elphick Road, Newhaven, and over the next few days repeatedly had sex with her and gave her alcohol, cannabis and cocaine, jurors at Hove Crown Court heard.

On Monday, June 3 he again invited her around to his flat before taking her to the home of Mohammed Kamali, 46, in Harper Road, Newhaven.

There she was introduced first to Stephen Daramola, 48, who sexually assaulted her and then gave her £40, which Kayla-Joseph later took from her.

Next she was handed to Khosrow Sobhanieh, now 56, of North Lane, Guestling. He raped her once and tried to rape her again, before he gave Kayla-Joseph £40.

Prosecutors described Kayla-Joseph as the “prime mover” in the exploitation, but said all four were complicit.

Kayla-Joseph did not face any charges over having sexual intercourse with the teenager, which prosecutors said she complied with so she would not upset him.

Prosecutor Richard Barton said the case was a "vivid illustration of how a young, vulnerable girl can be exploited so very easily by older men for their own sexual gratification and monetary gain".

All four men were unanimously convicted of conspiring to arrange the prostitution of a child after a three-week trial.

Sobhanieh, of North Lane, Guestling, near Hastings, denied any sexual contact with the teenager but was also convicted by a majority verdict of one count of rape and unanimously of one count of attempted rape.

Daramola, of Park Lane, Eastbourne, also denied any sexual activity with the girl, but was also convicted by majority verdict of one count of sexual assault.

Kayla-Joseph was also convicted of two offences of supplying cocaine - one by himself and one with Kamali, now of Wilimington Gardens, Eastbourne, and Daramola.

Jurors cleared Giuseppi Carella, now 19, of Brighton Rd, Newhaven, of all charges. He had been charged with one count of conspiring to prostitute a child, one count of rape and one count of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.

They also cleared Khalid Del-Rosario, 45, of Upperton Rd, Eastbourne, who was found not guilty of one count of conspiring to prostitute a child and one count of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.

Speaking outside court, Del-Rosario, who said he co-owns Rosetto Restaurant in Carlisle Road, Eastbourne, thanked jurors and said he was pleased to have his name cleared.

He added: “It has been hard, I have lost business. But I have not been disappointed – my life was in the hands of 12 people who I do not know, but they have proven to me that they are really good people.”

Sobhanieh’s wife, who was in court to hear yesterday’s verdict, told The Argus he was innocent and in fact wanted to help the girl and “felt sorry” for her when he saw her at Kamali’s flat.

The convicted men are due to be sentenced on Monday and have been remanded in custody until then. They are likely to all face custodial sentences.

'Challenging' domestic situation

HAVING threatened more than once to leave home, the 16-year-old packed a bag and headed for the bus stop after an argument with her father.

She had been leading a turbulent home life, having fallen in with the wrong crowd at school and regularly rowed with her father, prosecutors said.

With an outward confidence hiding some special needs and mental health problems, she occasionally got caught up in risky situations and was, in the words of the prosecution, “challenging” for her parents, who had split up.

After the row in May 2013 she headed to a bus stop in Brighton. She went into the city centre and then headed on another bus to Eastbourne.

Her father saw her standing there but, fearing another messy confrontation, decided not to force her to come home, hoping she would do so of her own accord.

Instead she rode the bus to Eastbourne and when she got there sat down on the pavement on her own - a “young, vulnerable girl, very much out of place and in need of urgent help,” prosecutors said.

In this state she was approached by then 25-year-old Christopher Kayla-Joseph, who struck up conversation and listened to her woes about her father before inviting her home.

Back at his flat in Elphick Road, Newhaven, they drank whisky and smoked cannabis, before Kayla-Joseph told her to get on the bed and had sex with her.

She complied, prosecutors said, “not wanting to upset him”.

Later they went to McDonald’s and she stayed the night.

In the morning she went to school as normal. Teachers noted that she felt and looked awful, but she said nothing and returned to Kayla-Joseph’s flat that night having left her overnight bag there.

She visited him again three times over the next few days.

Each time he had sex with her and gave her drugs and alcohol, in what prosecutors deemed a pattern of behaviour designed to "inculcate" the girl into his ways and prepare her for what was to come.

That was to happen on a Monday in June when he called her up, offering cocaine, and she went around again.

This time, she was taken around the corner to Mohammed Kamali’s flat in Harper Road, where Stephen Daramola, 48, and Khosrow Sobhanieh, 56, were waiting.

She was again plied with alcohol and cocaine before being sexually assaulted by Daramola, who then handed her £40 and wandered back into the lounge.

Kayla-Joseph took the £40 from her before introducing her to 56-year-old Khosrow Sobhanieh with the words, “She’s for you”.

Taking out “a large bundle of money”, prosecutors said, Sobhanieh took her into the bedroom where he took off both their clothes and raped her.

He left after giving Kayla-Joseph £60.

Prosecutors told how the still-drunk teenager managed to get back to Brighton, where she told her friends some of what had happened.

Two days later she tracked down Kayla-Joseph and Kamali to a pub in Peacehaven where an associate gave her £20.

The teen eventually revealed all to her NHS healthcare worker who told her mother, and police were called.

Nearly two years later, she stood behind a screen to give evidence against her abusers in front of a packed Hove courtroom.

Police investigation

POLICE worked for more than a year to gather evidence after the victim first told her health-worker about what happened, working with her and identifying the culprits.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark O'Brien, speaking at the end of the case, praised the victim for giving evidence in court: “She has been through a hell of an ordeal, and now she has been vindicated.”

It marks the first prosecution in Sussex under the charge of conspiracy to arrange child prosecution.

DCI O’Brien said such cases were often particularly challenging to bring to court due to the vulnerability of the victims and their young age.

He added: “Raising the profile of child sexual exploitation and how serious the police and partner agencies take it is really important, getting that message across that we will support you.

“Sometimes the difficulty we have is in asking the victims to believe in the criminal justice system and this case demonstrates that they will be supported.

“Hopefully in bringing this case to court and getting the convictions there may be other victims out there that are encouraged to come forward.”

He added: "This is a landmark case, sending a clear message that anyone who sets out to exploit vulnerable young people in this way can expect to be subject to investigation, and can be brought to justice.

"We also wish to pay tribute to the girl herself, whose evidence, resolutely given with the help of special measures including a screen protecting her from the defendants' view, was key in ensuring this outcome.