Forced marriage
The case is believed to be the first forced marriage conviction in the UK Getty

A 34-year-old man has become the first person in the UK to be convicted under new forced marriage laws introduced last year.

The man from Cardiff, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sentenced to 16 years in jail after pleading guilty to forcing a 25-year-old women to marry him against her will in what was also an act of bigamy.

The man also pleaded guilty to four counts of rape and one count of voyeurism at Merthyr Crown Court.

The court heard how the man had become "particular possessive and controlling" towards his victim, a devout Muslim, before repeatedly raping her and forcing her to marry him. The man also threatened to kill his victim's father if she did not go along with the ceremony.

He was sentenced to four years for the forced marriage charge, 12 months for bigotry and 12 months for voyeurism – all to run concurrently with a 16-year rape conviction.

Judge Daniel Williams said: "When you first raped her, she was still a virgin – something which you would use to ensure her silence.

"After you had raped her you produced a laptop which had a video of her showering after you had installed a hidden camera in a towel rail.

"You threatened that if she disclosed the rape to anyone, you would make that video public.

"You made her feel that she was no longer marriage material [for anyone else] in the hope that she would turn to you."

The forced marriage sentence is believed to be the first one in the UK since the introduction of new laws under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which came into force in June 2014.

Speaking at the time, Home Secretary Theresa May said: "Forced marriage is a tragedy for each and every victim, and its very nature means that many cases go unreported."

Following the sentence, detective superintendent Lian Penhale, of South Wales Police, said: "From the outset this complex case was a legal milestone in Wales and the UK and a benchmark to what can be achieved.

"I hope that today's sentencing will act as a catalyst to empower victims and those at risk to come forward and enable the police and our partners to give them the support they need to ensure they're free from this criminal activity – and to bring the offenders to justice."

Iwan Jenkins, head of CPS Wales Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit, added: "Forced marriage wrecks lives and destroys families. We hope that today's sentence sends a strong message that forced marriage will not be tolerated in today's Britain.

"It is a testament to the strength of the case which we constructed with the police that we secured a guilty plea for the offences in this case.

"The victim has shown great courage and bravery in reporting these matters. This conviction illustrates the seriousness in which these crimes are treated and investigated by the Crown Prosecution Service and South Wales Police.

"I hope today's sentence brings some closure for those who have suffered as a result of these particularly nasty and invasive crimes."