Next Top - Abdul Qayyum, Hamid Safi, Kabeer Hassan, Wanted - Shazad; Bottom - Abdul Aziz, Mohammed Amin, Adil Khan, Mohammed Sajid. Top - Abdul Qayyum, Hamid Safi, Kabeer Hassan, Wanted - Shazad; Bottom - Abdul Aziz, Mohammed Amin, Adil Khan, Mohammed Sajid.
Nine men who abused girls as young as 13 were today convicted over a child sex grooming ring. Following a 11-week trial, a jury found the nine men, from Rochdale and Oldham, guilty of 21 counts of sexual abuse over a two-year period. They were convicted on the back of evidence from five girls, who were as young as 13 when the abuse happened between 2008 and 2010. Two other men were found not guilty. Qamar Shahzad and Liaqat Shah were both cleared of all charges. After he was found not guilty on the two counts he faced Qamar Shahzad said: "I'm delighted with the verdicts. I'm an innocent man and I'm glad that the jury believed in me. This has been a very difficult time for me. My reputation has been badly damaged after my arrest but now I can go back to my life as an innocent man with my head held high." The vulnerable girls, some of them runaways or in the care of social services, were given the attention they craved before being plied with drink, raped and driven all over the north to have sex with other men.
Most of the men are from Rochdale's Pakistani community and were married with children. They worked as taxi drivers or in the Tasty Bites and Balti House in Heywood where some of the victims were given free kebabs and vodka as they were groomed for sex. The trial heard how the men abused a string of white girls. Police interview with Adil Khan Victim of Rochdale sex grooming gang:
What they did to me was evil Police, council, and CPS apologise for failures that allowed Rochdale sex grooming gang to abuse girls for two years after crime was first reported Detectives say the victims were targeted because they were vulnerable and available, not because they were white.
Following the convictions, it has now emerged that police believe up up to 47 girls may have been abused by the men, although only five were willing to give evidence during trial. Detectives also believe there could be up to 50 other men who took part in the grooming but remain at large.
After the convictions, Det Chf Supt Mary Doyle, described the defendants as 'pure evil'. She said: “These offences are the worst offences you can possibly imagine against vulnerable young children. “Let's not shy away from the fact the victims are children. It was an incredibly difficult and complex case to investigate not least because of the amount of support the victims understandably required throughout. “It was pure evil.
They were exploiting the vulnerable in our society for their own gratification. “They groomed their victims who introduced them to other girls. They thought it was a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. “They would supply them with alcohol and kebabs and free taxi rides and actually some of the girls thought they were in a genuine relationship. It was sustained. “They were raped and subjected to humiliation and degradation. You cannot think of a worse set of offences. In some instance it was several men at a time. These girls were just passed around other men. “People deal with things in a different way. How this is going to manifest itself with the individuals concerned, I would suggest each one is very different. “This sends out a clear message that we are willing to investigate and will investigate these kinds of offences until these people are brought to justice.”
The prosecution's main witness first came to the police in August, 2008.
While spending the next eleven months investigating her allegations, she and other girls were continuing to be abused.
The Crown Prosecution Service concluded the girl was 'not credible' and two men who had been arrested were released without charge. The abuse continued until May, 2010, when police decided to revisit the case.
Greater Manchester Police and the CPS have now apologised.
Full list of convictions: Kabeer Hassan, 24, of Lacrosse Avenue, Oldham, convicted of rape and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. Abdul Aziz, 41, of Armstrong Hurst Close, Rochdale, cleared of two counts of rape but convicted of trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. Abdul Rauf, 43, of Darley Road, Rochdale, convicted of trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. Mohammed Sajid, 35, of Jepheys Street, Rochdale, convicted of conspiracy, sexual activity with a child, rape and trafficking.
Earlier in the trial the jury was ordered to find him not guilty of one rape charge. Adil Khan, 42, of Oswald Street, Rochdale, convicted of conspiracy and trafficking. Abdul Qayyum, 43, of Ramsay Street, Rochdale, convicted of conspiracy. Mohammed Amin, 44, of Falinge Road, Rochdale, found guilty of sex assaults and conspiracy. Hamid Safi, 22, of Kensington Street, Rochdale, was found not guilty of two counts of rape but convicted of trafficking and conspiracy.
A 59-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, convicted of two counts of rape, one sex assault, one of trafficking and conspiracy.
Cleared: Qamar Shahzad, 29, of Tweedale Street, Rochdale, cleared of rape and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. Liaquat Shah, 41, of Kensington Street, Rochdale, cleared of two rapes and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child.
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