The three children and wife of Rachid Khadla (pictured above), 56, stood in a witness box and testified to the controlling dictatorship that he forced them to live under

The three children and wife of Rachid Khadla (pictured above), 56, stood in a witness box and testified to the controlling dictatorship that he forced them to live under

A ‘dictator’ father who made his daughter sign a ‘contract’ promising never to get fat only allowed his family two baths a week and forced them to sit in the dark as they watched TV, a court heard. 

The three children and wife of Rachid Khadla, 56, from Windsor, Berkshire, stood in a witness box and testified to the controlling ‘dictatorship’ that he forced them to live under.  

The father, who is facing charges of child cruelty and assault, only let his family watch programmes he picked out and refused to let them watch advertisements for fear of indoctrination as they were forced to turn over to the BBC, a jury was told. 

It was further alleged that he only allowed the hot water to be on for one hour on a Tuesday and Sunday, when the family were forced to share bath water and top up with a kettle and a jug.

Reading Crown Court also heard that Khadla even forced them to sit in the dark after work to save money on electricity.

Giving evidence, Khadla’s eldest son Karim, 27, said it was ‘like living under a dictatorship’ and, if the rules were disobeyed, there would be ‘severe consequences’.

It comes after Khadla’s daughter, Amira, told the court how her ‘controlling’ father decided what she could wear, who she could see, who she could talk to and what she could watch on television. 

She claimed he also made her sign a life-long ‘contract’ promising to never get fat and alleged that he weighed her daily. 

Having moved out of the family home in Windsor, Berkshire, in 2011 to attend the University of Bournemouth, son Karim infrequently visited the family home until 2016, when he cut himself off from the family entirely.

Unbeknown to his family, Karim had started a family of his own having had a beautiful baby girl and was terrified of what his father would do in his rage and so he decided to disappear.

He told the court: ‘It was like living under a dictatorship. My father was the dictator. 

‘It means that the basic aspects of your life you have no control over, if you do not follow it to the letter, if you disobey, there would be severe consequences.

‘Every aspect of our life was controlled, where we studied, what we ate, what we watched on television. My father would circle what we would watch on the TV guide. The subjects were chosen by him, what he wanted us to watch.

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‘Even when advert breaks came on, he controlled the media and advertising we saw. Everything was tailored to the paradigm he wanted us to live under.’

The family lived under a set of rules put in place by fitness fanatic Rachid – if they were disobeyed there were terrible consequences, the jury heard.

Taking to the witness stand, Khadla’s wife of 27 years, Sarah, said: ‘The atmosphere at home was really tough, like walking on egg shells, it was never a happy home.

‘There was always a feeling in the air that could be cut with a knife. It was Rachid’s attitude and aggression. One minute he was nice, then at the flick of a light he became a horrible person.

The family lived under a set of rules put in place by fitness fanatic Rachid - if they were disobeyed there were terrible consequences, the jury heard (pictured from left to right: Hicham, Amira, their mother Sarah and Karim)

The family lived under a set of rules put in place by fitness fanatic Rachid – if they were disobeyed there were terrible consequences, the jury heard (pictured from left to right: Hicham, Amira, their mother Sarah and Karim)

‘Rachid set the rules in the house, there were an awful lot of rules. There came a time when I had to have an operation and the children were expected to wash up, hoover, and take the rubbish out to be recycled. 

‘That was when the chores came in, they continued and progressively they did more.’

The jury heard Karim recall the first time he was beaten with a wooden spoon, having thrown his sandwiches away at school in an act of rebellion.

He said: ‘I remember it first started happening when I was around five years old. I had a habit of throwing my food away. I would throw my sandwiches in the bin. 

‘I think my school had phoned home and spoke to my father telling him that I had done it again. That was the first time I remember being hit with a wooden spoon.

‘If we did not obey, there would be violence. If you disobeyed him, did or said the wrong thing and did not follow his direction, it was a wooden spoon to the palm of the hand.

‘The wooden spoon was a method of beating us. He would hit me quite ferociously. He would hit us until he was satisfied, double figures. He would punish us in this way whenever he was displeased with us.’

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Karim also told of the last time he was brutally attacked around the age of 15 by his father at the family home in Windsor.

Additionally, the court heard how Khadla weighed the family weekly and controlled what they wore. Mother Sarah said: 'Amira (pictured above) was told to wear nothing that was tight, her trousers were two sizes too big for her'

Additionally, the court heard how Khadla weighed the family weekly and controlled what they wore. Mother Sarah said: ‘Amira (pictured above) was told to wear nothing that was tight, her trousers were two sizes too big for her’

He said: ‘I remember the last time. I was about 15 – two years before I left the family home for good. We were all in the lounge, I believe my mother asked me for something in front of me and I was doing something at the time so I said I would do it when I was finished.

‘The reactive side of my father was an outburst in anger. He stood up and punched me straight to the temple, he used his fist and punched me with all his might. I was knocked to the ground, I think I was knocked unconscious for a small period of time.

‘We did not question it, it was the law. You do not question laws to which you abide. My mother tried to protect us but she was small, she had no power. She would hide stuff from him and try to intervene when we were getting disciplined but it did not really work.’

The mother-of-three sobbed in the witness box as she explained the disciplinarian her husband had evolved into.

She said: ‘Rachid was in charge of discipline at home. He would punish them if they were not doing as they were told. There was an incident when Hitcham was about three years old, I found Rachid hitting him with a wooden spoon in his bedroom.

‘I asked him to stop it and he hit him more. He said “that is for your mother.” After that, I never interfered again. It was how he punished them, they hated it – how could you do that to a child?

‘They kind of got on with it, they knew better than to do anything about it. If they said something or did something, he would just explode. 

‘I never told anyone. He was a body builder, he was sometimes double my weight with big muscles, I saw him physically break things in front of me. I was scared of the consequences.’

Despite being unemployed for more than 20 years, the court heard how Khadla took control of the family finances – even forcing his working veterinary nurse daughter Amira to hand over her debit card to him.

‘Amira earned money at work which was paid into her account but she was not allowed to keep her debit card. He would go to her bank every week, he would withdraw £175 for food and rent,’ her mother Sarah said.

Additionally, the court heard how Khadla weighed the family weekly and controlled what they wore. Sarah added: ‘Amira was told to wear nothing that was tight, her trousers were two sizes too big for her, Rachid decided what she wore.

‘Rachid is Moroccan and was a Muslim – but not a practising one. He never prayed, he never want to a mosque, he did not do religion.

‘We were weighed weekly, it was just something that he did. Amira and I were told we were putting on weight and we had to stop having sweet treats in the week, only allowed sweet things at the weekend,’ Sarah Khadla admitted.

After her son Karim ceased contact in 2016, Sarah was left in the dark and it was only when Amira did a Facebook search that she discovered she had a granddaughter.

She told the jury that university was her eldest sons ‘get out of jail free card.’

She concluded: ‘After 2016 I heard nothing from him, I would send him messages and it said they had been received. I sent birthday and Christmas messages but I never got a reply. I did not know what was going on in his life.

‘I knew when he went to university that he would never come home, it was his get out of jail free card, he had freedom. I did not know properly that he had a child until he got back in touch after his father was arrested. Rachid would have gone ballistic.’

The day after Khadla’s arrest on October 17, Sarah reached out to her son to tell him what had happened and the family – minus Rachid – reunited a few days later and have maintained contact ever since.

Khadla denies three counts of child cruelty and two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The trial continues.



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