Seven men have been convicted of a total of 24 child sexual abuse offences, including rape, sexual assault and false imprisonment, as part of the National Crime Agency’s investigation into allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation in Rotherham.
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 ‘X’, a man who cannot be named for legal reasons, following an eight week trial at Sheffield Crown Court.
Their offences relate to the abuse of five girls, one as young as 13, between 1998 and 2005 in Rotherham and the surrounding areas.
The court heard that the seven men befriended the girls, with some leading them 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 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.
One of the girls also recalled being driven to a remote spot by two of the men where one of them began to “grope” her. She explained that when she became distressed he said, “it’s better if you just get it over and done with and then you can go back home”.
Operation Stovewood Senior Investigating Officer, Paul Williamson said: “I would like to pay tribute to our victims and survivors who have placed their trust in us to support them through this prosecution, and for their courage in giving evidence in what must have been a hugely challenging and emotional experience for them all.
“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 today.
“I would like to thank partners for their support – particularly the Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ISVAs) and want to reassure victims and survivors in Rotherham that the NCA remain committed to investigate all matters within our remit to bring child sex offenders to justice.”
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.
“I would like to thank the victims who came forward and bravely supported this prosecution.”
All seven men have been remanded in custody and will be sentenced on the 16 November at Sheffield Crown Court.
This result brings the total number of people convicted to date as part of Operation Stovewood to 14.
There are currently 22 separate investigations under the Stovewood umbrella, with 147 suspects identified and more than 290 complainants engaging with officers. 24 suspects have been charged and 12 have been arrested (or attended a police station voluntarily) and bailed or released under investigation.