Cambridgeshire

Peterborough 'Facebook grooming' sex attackers guilty

Yasir Ali, 28, and Daaim Ashraf, 19, from Peterborough, caught on CCTV Image copyright Cambridgeshire Police
Image caption Yasir Ali, 28, and Daaim Ashraf, 19, from Peterborough, abused some girls in a hotel

Two Cambridgeshire men have been convicted of sex offences after targeting teenage girls though Facebook and text messages.

Yasir Ali, 28, and Daaim Ashraf, 19, from Peterborough, were found guilty after a trial at Cambridge Crown Court.

Victims were collected from their homes around Peterborough, Lincolnshire and Rutland and taken to secluded spots.

A third defendant, James Daly, 25, of Grange Road, Peterborough, was cleared of one charge of rape.

Ali, of Grange Road, was convicted of 15 charges, including four rapes, seven trafficking offences, possession of two indecent images, having sexual activity with a child and intimidation. He was cleared of one charge of rape.

'Sex objects'

Ashraf, of Almoners Lane in the city, was found guilty of nine charges, including five trafficking offences, a sexual assault, sexual activity with a child, sexual activity in the presence of a child and a further count of intimidation.

Image copyright Cambridgeshire Police
Image caption Yasir Ali (left) and Daaim Ashraf (right) were convicted after more than 14 hours of deliberation by the jury

They will be sentenced the week beginning 16 June.

BBC Look East's home affairs correspondent, Sally Chidzoy, said upon conviction Daaim Ashraf laughed and raised a finger at the press bench.

The trial, which began in March, heard the teenagers were targeted via Facebook, Blackberry Messenger and through text messages.

Prosecutor Patricia Lynch said they were picked up, plied with alcohol and used as "sex objects".

Police said six of the victims, the youngest of whom was 13, were abused at a hotel in Peterborough in January and February last year. One victim was filmed on a mobile phone.

Two victims were also raped in cars at Ferry Meadows in 2008 and 2010 and another girl was raped in an alleyway in Stamford, police said.

Two other defendants were cleared during the trial.

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Media captionThe men abused their victims in hotels, cars and alleyways

The verdicts follow on from five men convicted in February at the Old Bailey for similar offences in Peterborough.

Det Supt Gary Ridgway, from Cambridgeshire Police, said: "The girls were targeted due to their vulnerability and groomed via social media. They were made to feel special."

Sue Westcott, executive director of children's services at Peterborough City Council, said the experiences of the victims were "horrendous" and "traumatic".

"We will continue to work closely with the police to uncover these sorts of crimes in our area and bring those responsible to justice," she added.

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