Ten men jailed for sex offences against Rochdale girl
Ten men who committed sexual offences against a teenage girl in Rochdale have been given jail sentences of up to 25 years.
The complainant walked into a police station shortly after widespread media coverage of the 2012 convictions at Liverpool Crown Court of a number of Asian defendants for grooming white girls for sex in the town.
She told officers that from the age of 14 she too had been repeatedly sexually groomed by a large number of men in Rochdale.
She also said that "hundreds'' of men would ring her up, wanting her to go out and have sex with them.
The offences, which also involved other under-age victims, took place in Rochdale and the surrounding area, mainly between 2005 and 2010.
Nine of the defendants were sentenced at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court on Friday, while another man was jailed last year.
The white victim with learning difficulties was said by prosecutors to be an "extremely vulnerable young woman" who had endured "a very difficult home life".
She gave evidence in two separate trials which lasted a total of 15 weeks.
Seven other complainants, who were aged 13 to 22 at the time, also came forward to testify which secured convictions against a number of the defendants, some of whom were of Pakistani or Bangladeshi heritage.
Afraz Ahmed, 33, of Oswald Street, Rochdale, was jailed for a total of 25 years after he was found guilty of various sexual offences, including rape, conspiracy to rape and sexual activity with a child, in relation to five underage victims.
A 40-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed for 23 years after he was convicted of rape and attempting to abduct a child in relation to three victims. He will serve an additional eight years on extended licence when he is released.
Choudry Ikhalaq Hussein, 38, formerly of Mayfield Terrace, Rochdale, was jailed for 19 years in his absence for rape, sexual activity with a child and conspiracy to rape.
Hussain is believed to be currently in Pakistan after he absconded during his trial.
Rehan Ali, 27, of Cleethorpes Avenue, Blackley, was imprisoned for seven years and Kutab Miah, 35, of Ramsey Street, Rochdale, for nine years after both were found guilty of rape and sexual activity with a child.
Abid Khan, 39, of Whitney Road, Liverpool, was jailed for six-and-a-half years and Mohammed Zahid, 55, of Croxton Avenue, Rochdale, for five years after both were found guilty of sexual activity with a child.
Mohammed Dauood, 38, of Leyland Road, Burnley, was jailed for 16 years after he was convicted of offences in relation to two victims including rape, sexual activity with a child and sexual assault.
David Law, 46, of Colmanhay Road, Ilkeston, Derbyshire, was jailed for 11 years after he was convicted of conspiracy to rape.
A tenth defendant, Mahfuz Rahman, 29, of HMP Garth, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to three counts of sexual activity with a child. He was jailed for five-and-a-half years last September.
The main complainant in the case, who is now aged in her mid-20s, watched on from the public gallery.
Her victim personal statement was not read out at her request.
Ahmed was the first defendant sentenced and looked dumbfounded when he was told how long he would have to serve in prison.
The public gallery broke into applause and then Ahmed motioned to the judge to ask if he could say something but he was ordered to leave the dock.
Judge John Potter said: "Each of the victims of this offending gave evidence at one trial or the other.
"They were subjected to cross-examination which suggested they were not telling the truth. Each dealt with this ordeal impressively.
"I have little doubt that each of the victims have been affected by your abuse of them to some degree, some far more than others."
He said it was testament to their "bravery, courage and fortitude" they had given evidence in court despite the "appalling way" they were treated.
Two of the victims, he said, had suffered psychological harm.
The convictions came as a result of Operation Doublet - a police investigation into child sexual exploitation mainly in the Rochdale area - set up in the wake of the separate mass grooming trial at Liverpool which put the spotlight on the town.
Senior investigating officer Det Chief Insp Jamie Daniels said: "This was an extremely complex case and I want to commend the victims for the immense bravery they have shown; only with their support have we arrived at this point. The process can be emotionally demanding and traumatic for the victims and we do not underestimate the courage this took.
"The strong partnership approach taken here, ranging from the Crown Prosecution Service through to Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council has been important and the police team have dedicated themselves and have been relentless in achieving the very best outcomes.
"This has been achieved through a great deal of hard work by police, partners and victims. The nationally recognised Sunrise team in Rochdale continue to help identify vulnerable children in Rochdale with Project Phoenix being a multi-agency approach for Greater Manchester.
"CSE is more than a criminal issue - it is a social problem that we are working closely with our partners to tackle on many levels. Criminal investigations and convictions allow us to remove the offender but there is a huge amount of work behind the scenes. These are victim-led investigations and the long-term wellbeing and care of those victims is of paramount importance."
No evidence was put before the court that the men had acted as part of an organised gang or that they all knew each other.
Alison Cartmell, senior Crown prosecutor from the CPS North West complex casework unit, said: "Firstly I want to pay tribute to the victims who gave evidence against their abusers in the two trials. Their courage and fortitude enabled police and prosecutors to build strong cases against these men and to bring them to justice.
"The offenders targeted their victims because of their age and the vulnerable situations they were in at the time. They pretended to be their friends and, in some cases, their boyfriends, but in fact they set out to groom them and exploit them for their own ends.
"Some of the men plied their victims with large amounts of alcohol or drugs as a way of controlling or even incapacitating them. Some used violence and threats to intimidate and coerce them into having sex.
"The CPS has worked closely with Greater Manchester Police and prosecuting counsel throughout this complex and lengthy investigation to help support the victims and to ensure the strongest possible case was put before the juries.
"These cases are dealt with by dedicated and specially trained police officers and prosecutors and we will continue to work together to bring further charges and prosecute other offenders wherever there is evidence to do so.
"I hope that today's outcome will act as a warning to those who abuse and exploit children in this way that tackling these crimes remains a priority for police and prosecutors and I hope it provides other victims of sexual abuse with the confidence to contact the police and to seek support."
Richard Scorer, from law firm Slater and Gordon, who represents one of the victims, said: "In 20 years of acting for victims in cases of this nature, these are some of the most appalling, sadistic and vile crimes that I have ever encountered.
"These men systematically groomed, abused and raped vulnerable teenage girls to satiate their sexual desires.
"We welcome the sentences that have been imposed. They reflect the horrific nature of their crimes and show that men who perpetrate these appalling offences will be hunted down, prosecuted and jailed.
"I believe there are many more victims of these sorts of crimes and I hope they will come forward in the knowledge that men who commit these crimes will be brought to book."