October 2018

Seven men of Pakistani heritage guilty of child sexual abuse

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Seven men of Pakistani heritage have been found guilty of child sexual abuse in the largest trial so far following the Rotherham abuse inquiry.

One underage victim was “passed around” and had sex with 100 men by the time she was 16 years old, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Another young victim became pregnant and had to have an abortion.

Another young girl described being bitten and raped by two of the men in Sherwood Forest while “high as a kite” on drugs.

The case is the first major prosecution arising out of Operation Stovewood – the National Crime Agency (NCA)’s massive inquiry into historical child sexual exploitation in the South Yorkshire town.

The defendants were found guilty following an eight week long trial.

The charges against them included, rape, indecent assault and false imprisonment.

*** The convicted men:

  • Mohammed Imran Ali Akhtar, 37, of Godstone Road, Rotherham, was found guilty of one rape, one charge of aiding and abetting rape, three indecent assaults, one charge of procuring a girl under 21 to have unlawful sexual intercourse with another and one sexual assault

  • Nabeel Kurshid, 35, of Weetwood Road, Rotherham, was found guilty of two rapes and one indecent assault

  • Iqlak Yousaf, 34, Tooker Road, Rotherham, was found guilty of two rapes and two indecent assaults

  • Tanweer Ali, 37, of Godstone Road, Rotherham, was found guilty of two rapes, two indecent assaults and one charge of false imprisonment

  • Salah Ahmed El-Hakam, 39, Tudor Close, Sheffield, was found guilty of one rape

  • Asif Ali, 33, of Clough Road, Rotheham, was found guilty of two indecent assaults

  • A seventh defendant, who cannot be named, was found guilty of two rapes

  • Another defendant who was charged with offences of indecent assault and false imprisonment was acquitted.

So far, more than 1,500 victims have been identified.

During a trial lasting more than eight weeks the jury heard the men, who are all of British Pakistani heritage, preyed on the girls’ vulnerability before they were sexually assaulted and passed on to other men.

The girls, who are now women in their 30s, were “lured by the excitement of friendship with older Asian youths” but then sexually assaulted and passed between men, the jury in the trial was told.

One of the victims told police she felt as though her childhood had been “snatched away.”

Another said she had been plied with drugs and alcohol, taken to a location miles away from home and threatened with being abandoned alone if she did not have sex.

The court head the men used alcohol, drugs, threats and violence to control the girls.

On girl said Ali Akhtar regularly threatened to dump her in remote locations if she did not have sex with him and his friends and on one occasion he abandoned her by the side of a motorway.

The same girl said Ali Akhtar would take her to meet older Asian taxi drivers and force her to have sex with them.

Another recounted how as Tanweer Ali raped her in the back of a car he told her: “It’s better you just get it over and done with and then you can go back home”.

The court heard some of the girls had already been exploited by other men in Rotherham.

The girls were abused in locations across Rotherham, the court heard, including at the tip in Rawmarsh, in a supermarket car park, and at Clifton Park and Ulley Country Park.

One girl, who was 14 at the time, was given cannabis and driven to Sherwood Forest by Nabeel Kurshid, Iqlak Yousaf and a third man.

The men then took turns raping her, warning her that if she did not do as she was told she would be left there.

The court heard that after becoming pregnant another girl had an abortion because her parents were supportive.

Prosecuting barrister Michelle Colborne said: “She suffered a great deal of psychological trauma as a result.”

Ms Colborne also said that the five complainants in the trial were easy to target because they needed to be loved.

She said: “When they were in their teens, they were targeted, sexualised and, in some instances, subjected to acts of a degrading and violent nature at the hands of these men who sit in the dock.

“None of them had the maturity to understand that they were being groomed and exploited.”

Ms Colborne added that the girls “believed sex of some kind or other was a necessary price for friendship”.

This investigation was set up in the wake of the 2014 Jay Report which revealed the shocking scale of exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 and failure of police and social services to intervene.

Researcher Angie Heal previously described it as the “biggest child protection scandal in UK history”.

Evidence of the abuse was first noted in the early 1990s and the first group conviction took place in 2010, when five British-Pakistani men were convicted of sexual offences against girls aged 12-16.

Sentencing of the seven men who were convicted on Monday will take place on 16 November.