Operation Chalice: Child sex abuse case concludes
- 10 May 2013
- From the section Shropshire
The Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling that a man accused of child sex abuse offences whose trial collapsed is unfit to stand trial again.
Noshad Hussain, 23, was cleared of trafficking a girl, 14, at a trial last year, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict on four charges of engaging in sexual activity with her.
The court ruling marks the end of an investigation into a child prostitution ring in Telford.
Seven men were jailed last year.
The court rejected an appeal by the Crown Prosecution Service against the judge's ruling that Mr Hussain should not face a retrial.
The ruling means that restrictions put in place while Mr Hussain's case was considered have been lifted.
Details of previous hearings involving the seven men have been reported but the cases could not be linked until now.
Many of the seven men worked for or had connections with fast-food restaurants across Telford and some of the girls were sold for sex to workers.
The men were all arrested as part of West Mercia Police's Operation Chalice. Officers said the total number of girls targeted between 2007 and 2009 could be above 100.
Det Ch Insp Neil Jamieson described many of the girls as "particularly vulnerable". He said they were groomed, receiving presents such as mobile phones to build up a sense of trust.
"What they would do is drive them around, they would ply them with alcohol, drugs, buy them things, and it would almost be a boyfriend-girlfriend scenario initially.
"It then spiralled into them being shared with other men.
"We found some of the victims had been to Halifax, they'd been to the north of the country, they'd been into Birmingham and they'd been moved around for the purposes of sexual exploitation."
He described the investigation, which at times involved up to 50 officers, as one of the most complex the force had ever undertaken.
Laura Johnston, director of children and family services at Telford and Wrekin Council, welcomed the sentences and said the council would continue to offer support to the victims.
Det Ch Insp Jamieson said the last four years had been a "real ordeal" for all the victims, particularly those who gave evidence.
He said he hoped the convictions would help the victims "move on" with their lives.
The Telford Muslim Forum condemned the offences and said the whole community had been shocked by what had happened, particularly as it was "in their back yard"
The forum's chairman, Dr Mohammed Quershi said the past few years had been "hard times," but "branding a whole community because of the actions of a few is not the right way".
Nine men were initially charged as a result of Operation Chalice. But in September 2011, a trial at Stafford Crown Court collapsed after three months following representations from defence barristers.
Judge Robin Onions ruled the men should be tried separately.
In the event, a total of seven men were jailed, five of them after pleading guilty to various charges. One was cleared after no evidence was presented and in the case of Mr Hussain the indictment has been stayed.
Inciting child prostitution
Brothers Ahdel Ali, 25, and Mubarek Ali, 29, who had denied a string of child sex offences, were handed the longest sentences, of 18 years and 14 years respectively.
The trial at Worcester Crown Court heard the brothers, of Regent Street, Wellington, sexually abused, trafficked, prostituted or tried to prostitute four Telford teenagers, as young as 13.
In sentencing the pair, Judge Patrick Thomas QC said: "You have not shown at any remorse or regret for what you did. Instead you have twisted and turned to avoid justice."
Ahdel Ali was found guilty of one charge of rape, 11 charges of sexual activity with a child, three charges of controlling child prostitution, one of inciting child prostitution, a charge of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and meeting a child after grooming.
His brother was convicted of four charges of controlling child prostitution, two of trafficking in the UK for sexual exploitation and a charge of causing child prostitution.
The judge said the elder brother had repeatedly sold one girl "for relatively trivial sums".
He said Mubarek's motivations went beyond profit and "involved sheer gratuitous pleasure in the power you exercised over these unhappy girls".
- Former taxi driver Mohammed Islam Choudhrey, 54, of Solway Drive, Sutton Hill, pleaded guilty to paying for sex with a Telford schoolgirl and was jailed for two-and-a-half years at Wolverhampton Crown Court in November.
- Mohammed Ali Sultan, 26, from Victoria Avenue, Wellington, was jailed for seven years after admitting having sex with two teenage girls, one of whom was 13 years old.
- Mohammed Younis, 61, of Kingsland, Arleston, was jailed for two-and-a-half years for allowing his flat to be used as a brothel by allowing a man to have sex with a girl who was being controlled as a prostitute.
- Mahroof Khan, 35, from Caradoc Flats, Wellington, was given a 30-month sentence after admitting having sex with a 15-year-old girl at his home, but walked free from court due to time spent on remand.
- Tanveer Ahmed, 40, of Urban Gardens in Wellington, was jailed for two-and-a-half years after admitting a charge of controlling a child prostitute.
- Abdul Rouf, 36, of Kingsland, Arleston, walked free from court after no evidence was offered against him, although the judge ordered that a charge of facilitating child prostitution should lie on file.