The case against two men accused of sex trafficking a Rotherham teenager has been dropped today, after a judge ruled there was not enough evidence to proceed to trial.
Mohammed Yasin, 37, and Qaiser Iqbal, 36, were charged with taking a child away from a responsible person and intentionally arranging or facilitating the travel of a female for the purposes of sexual abuse last year, relating to an incident that took place in 2005.
Judge Roger Thomas QC dismissed the charges against the two men during a hearing held at Sheffield Crown Court today, after ruling there was insufficient evidence for the case to proceed any further.
The court was told how the charge related to an incident in which Mr Yasin and Mr Iqbal, both from Bradford, picked up two teenage girls from Rotherham on their way to a car show in Bristol in 2005.
Prosecuting, Anthony Dunne, said it was the Crown's case that the two men intended to 'traffic' one of the girls, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
No charges were brought in relation to the second girl picked up by Mr Iqbal and Mr Yasin.
Mr Dunne said the two men had not explained to police how they knew the girl, who lived in a different part of the county; and he said it was the Crown's case that the two men had come to know of her through the sexual 'exploitation' she was being subjected to at the time in Rotherham.
He told the court that there was also witness evidence, from a woman one of the girls had spoken to on the phone during the journey to Bristol, to suggest the two men had offered the girls alcohol.
But the girl the charge was concerned with, then aged 17, had not alleged that any sexual misconduct had ever taken place, the court heard.
Judge Thomas QC said that while the conduct of Mr Iqbal, of Bingley Road, Bradford and Mr Yasin, of Lilycroft Road, Bradford, had been 'unsatisfactory' and 'suspicious' he did not believe there was sufficient evidence to prove they intended to traffic the girl.
The two men were charged in May last year as part of the National Crime Agency's Operation Stovewood.
There are currently 34 ongoing investigations under the Stovewood umbrella, and 260 alleged victims.
A spokesman for the NCA said: "We have 114 designated suspects (suspects who have been identified) and to date four individuals have been convicted and sentenced, 18 suspects have been charged, 10 have been released under investigation and two have been cautioned."