Former taxi driver Ismail ‘Ishy’ Haji, 39, of Rotary Close, Dewsbury, his brother, Imran Haji, 36, a shop assistant, of Manor Way, in Batley, Ibrahim ‘Iby’ Kola, 36, a factory worker, of School Crescent, Dewsbury and Mohammed ‘Saaj’ Chothia, 39, a factory worker, of Hyrstlands Road, in Batley were all jailed at Leeds Crown Court today for offences committed in 2014.
The four men were prosecuted following a significant investigation by Wakefield District Child Sexual Exploitation team into offending in the Wakefield and Kirklees Districts.
West Yorkshire Police welcomed the convictions and said officers will relentlessly target those who try to abuse and exploit children and the vulnerable.
The sentences given to the four men were: Ismail Haji, 19 years for rape, sexual activity with a child, grooming and trafficking offences; Imran Haji, 8 years for rape and trafficking offences; Ibrahim Kola, 10 years for rape and trafficking offences; Mohammed Chothia, 13 years for grooming, taking an indecent photo of a child and trafficking offences.
Police enquiries into the case began in October 2014 after a then 13-year-old victim from the Wakefield area told a school welfare officer she had been seriously sexually assaulted by men at an address in Dewsbury.
The subsequent investigation established the 13-year-old had come into contact with Mohammed Chothia and Ismail Haji in August.
She had later met the two men in Thornes Park, Wakefield, along with a 15-year-old girl.
Over the weeks which followed, the girls were also introduced to Imran Haji and Ibrahim Kola and taken to a flat in Dewsbury. Both were subject to serious sexual assaults at the property.
The 13-year-old was also seriously sexually assaulted at a second address.
Ismail Haji and Chothia were identified, arrested and charged by Wakefield Safeguarding officers in October 2014 with further enquiries leading to the identification and arrest of the other two defendants.
Chief Superintendent Mabs Hussain, District Commander for Wakefield, said: “Tackling child sexual exploitation and safeguarding the vulnerable is the top priority for Wakefield Police, just as it is for the rest of the force, and I am very pleased to see these men behind bars today.
“It is no exaggeration to say these men behaved in a reprehensible fashion and targetted some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“Within Wakefield, our child safeguarding detectives work with colleagues from social services, the NHS, Wakefield District Housing and more, within the same offices, to try and ensure everything possible is done to protect children and detect these offences.
“In this case, abuse reported to the school was very quickly passed to the police, indicating how well the reporting systems operating in Wakefield can work.
“I want to commend the team who investigated these offences in such a methodical and detailed fashion to build a case against these individuals and help put them in prison.”
Commenting on the case, Detective Inspector Lis Walker of the Wakefield District Safeguarding Unit, said: “These men took advantage of young and vulnerable victims for the sole purpose of sexually abusing them. They were devious and manipulative in order to achieve their vile objectives. They will now have a collective 50 years in prison to reflect upon the consequences of their wickedness.
“Officers worked incredibly hard and showed great determination during the investigation. They treated the victims with great sensitivity and have supported them throughout. Their meticulous work has ensured the protection of the wider community from these men. I am grateful to Barnardos and our partners at the Local Authority for the crucial support they have also shown throughout this case.
“However, whilst we welcome the sentences at court today, it is the victims that are, and have always been, at the forefront of our thoughts and of all we have done.
“Their bravery and courage in coming forward and supporting the prosecution of the men who treated them so abominably should be recognised. They have remained steadfast for almost two years, waiting for justice to be done.
“I hope seeing their abusers receive substantial custodial sentences will bring the victims some reassurance and enable them to draw this chapter to a close.
“I would encourage anyone who has information about child sexual exploitation to contact the police. You will be listened to and all reports will be thoroughly investigated and treated with the utmost sensitivity.”