Eight men convicted of sexually exploiting girls
Eight men have been convicted of sexually exploiting teenage girls in Rotherham, England.
The month-long trial at Sheffield Crown Court heard how the men "sexualised" their victims and, in some instances, subjected them to acts of a "degrading and violent nature".
One girl and her family told police, their MP and the then home secretary David Blunkett about the abuse and eventually moved to Spain to get away from the men.
The jury retired to consider verdicts on October 11 and on Monday convicted all eight gang members on all counts after deliberating for almost 18 hours.
Ringleader Sageer Hussain, 30, of Clough Road, Rotherham, was convicted of four rapes and one indecent assault.
Top row left to right: Mohammed Whied, Waleed Ali, Asif Ali, (middle row left to right) Sageer Hussain, Ishtiaq Khaliq, (bottom row left to right) Basharat Hussain, Masoued Malik and Naeem Rafiq.jpg
Mohammed Whied, 32, of Psalters Lane, Rotherham, was found guilty of one count of aiding and abetting rape.
Ishtiaq Khaliq, 33, of Cherry Brook, Rotherham, was found guilty of one rape and three indecent assaults.
Waleed Ali, 34, of Canklow Road, Rotherham, was found guilty of one rape and one indecent assault.
Asif Ali, 30, of Clough Road, Rotherham, was convicted on one rape.
Masoued Malik, 32, of Bridgewater Way, Rotherham, was found guilty of one rape, one count of conspiracy to commit indecent assault and one of false imprisonment.
Basharat Hussain, 40, from Goole, was convicted of one indecent assault.
And Naeem Rafiq, 33, of Clarendon Road, Rotherham, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit indecent assault and one of false imprisonment.
They were remanded in custody for sentencing on November 4.
The court heard that the victim who eventually fled to Spain had gone to the police in 2003, saying she had been repeatedly raped by Sageer Hussain when she was 13.
Michelle Colborne QC, prosecuting, told the jury the girl, now in her late 20s, and her family withdrew the allegations due to threats.
But the court was also told that police lost the girl's clothes without carrying out any forensic analysis.
The family tried to get help from social services as well and took the girl out of school before eventually moving abroad.
An official inquiry into exploitation in Rotherham in 2014 by Professor Alexis Jay concluded that 1,400 children had been raped, trafficked and attacked between 1997 and 2013 by gangs of largely Asian men, and that the victims were effectively ignored.
Ms Colborne said the court case was about three victims "who were sexualised and, in some instances, subjected to acts of a degrading and violent nature at the hands of these men".
She said Hussain played a "key role" and was "instrumental in befriending young girls who were flattered that he and his friends spent time with them".
They were then exploited by Hussain, his friends, older brothers and associates.
Speaking after the verdict, Detective Chief Inspector Martin Tate said: "This trial marks the culmination of three years of investigative work by South Yorkshire Police, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and the Crown Prosecution Service into the calculated and organised sexual exploitation of young girls in Rotherham.
"The verdicts today are of massive importance to the young women who have come forward to report years of horrific sexual abuse at the hands of these criminals.
"They had to endure what no child should and have shown remarkable bravery throughout our inquiry.
"From coming forward to officers, to providing video and written interviews, through to re-living their traumatic and awful abuse before the jury, they have carried themselves with composure and dignity.
"I am so grateful to these women, many of whom remain incredibly vulnerable, for offering their support to our investigative team and I am so pleased that their voices have been heard and their abusers have been held to account for their vile crimes.
"It is difficult to put into words the damage and impact of sexual exploitation on children, but I hope that by hearing these brave women's accounts, other victims of this awful crime find the strength to come forward and tell someone what has happened or is happening to them."
He added: "There remains much to do to tackle this organised and often devious crime, and our officers will continue their work to safeguard victims and identify and apprehend offenders to build further prosecution cases.
"Please, if you are suffering sexual abuse, or know someone who is or has been a victim of this crime, come forward and talk to someone. We have officers who will listen to you, support you and do whatever we can to help you."