The jury in the trial of takeaway boss accused of committing a string of child sex offences against seven girls has been sent home for the weekend.

Azad Miah, 44, who ran the Spice of India on Botchergate in Carlisle, is on trial accused of nine counts of paying for the sexual services of a child, eight counts of inciting child prostitution and one charge of keeping a brothel.

The jury, at Carlisle Crown Court. retired at 10.15am yesterday to start deliberations on the 18 counts. They returned to court at 3.30pm and were released by Judge Peter Hughes QC for the weekend.

Miah, a father-of-four, is said to have “hounded” girls to have sex for money while at the same time allegedly running a brothel from his takeaway.

He is alleged to have incited six girls, aged from 12 to 16, into child prostitution, one of whom who he went on to pay for sex. He is also accused of paying for the sexual services of another child over a four-year period from when she was 14.

He denies all the offences and claims some of the girls knew each other and have conspired to lie about him because he stopped giving money to them out of generosity. Miah did admit having secret extra-marital affairs with younger women but said he had no interest in under-age girls.

The jury of six men and six women will return to court at 10am on Monday.