Seven men are to be sentenced today for sexually abusing young girls in Rotherham after a gang preyed on vulnerable children – with one victim abused by 100 men by the time she was 16.
The men were convicted of a total of 24 child sexual abuse offences, including rape, sexual assault and false imprisonment, after a trial last month.
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They were arrested and investigated as part of the National Crime Agency’s investigation – Operation Stovewood – into historic allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation in Rotherham.
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Mohammed Imran Ali Akhtar, Nabeel Kurshid, Iqlaq Yousaf and Tanweer Ali, all friends from Rotherham, were found guilty alongside Salah Ahmed El-Hakam, Asif Ali and a man who cannot be named for legal reasons.
The offences relate to the abuse of five girls, one as young as 13, between 1998 and 2005 in and around Rotherham.
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Jurors in their trial heard that the men befriended the girls, with some leading their victims to believe they were their boyfriends, before passing them around to be sexually abused by multiple offenders.
The men would ply the girls with drugs and alcohol and threatened them with violence or with being transported and abandoned in an unfamiliar location if they didn’t comply with the sexual demands.
In victim impact statements, the girls told that the abuse was mainly carried out at night in a variety of secluded or derelict locations, including empty houses where there was no electricity. They were often sexually abused on mattresses on the floor and locked in rooms so that they couldn’t escape.
When the men were found guilty, Operation Stovewood Senior Investigating Officer, Paul Williamson said: “This case concerned child sexual exploitation arising from events in Rotherham in the late 1990s and into the next decade.
“The victims and survivors were in their teens when they were targeted and subjected to acts of degrading and violent exploitation and have had to wait a long time for justice which – after a herculean effort over the last three years by my officers - has been delivered.
Mike Duffy, from the CPS, said: “These men deliberately preyed on young, vulnerable teenagers, grooming and exploiting them.
“They denied the abuse but evidence put forward by the CPS, including the victim’s accounts of the incidents, resulted in the jury finding them guilty.”
So far, 14 offenders have been convicted as part of Operation Stovewood.
There are currently 22 separate investigations under the Stovewood umbrella, with 147 suspects identified and more than 290 complainants engaging with officers.
- Ali Akhtar, 36, of Godstone Road, Rotherham: one count of rape; one count of aiding and abetting rape; three counts of indecent assault; one count of procuring a girl under 21 to have sexual intercourse and one count of sexual assault
- Kurshid, 35, of Weetwood Road, Rotherham: two counts of rape and one count of indecent assault
- Yousaf, 34, of Tooker Road, Rotherham: two counts of rape and two counts of indecent assault
- Ali, 36, of Godstone Road, Rotherham: two counts of rape, two counts of indecent assault and one count of false imprisonment
- Ahmed El-Hakam, 39, of Tudor Close, Darnall: one count of rape
- Asif Ali, 33, of HMP Rye Hill, Northampton: two counts of indecent assault
- A seventh defendant who cannot be named: two counts of rape