Tees

Middlesbrough grooming: Trio jailed for child sex offences

Shakil Munir, Sakib Ahmed and Ateeq Latif Image copyright Cleveland Police
Image caption Cleveland Police said Shakil Munir, Sakib Ahmed and Ateeq Latif "preyed on young, vulnerable girls"

Two men and a 17-year-old boy who groomed and sexually exploited teenage girls have been jailed.

The court heard how Shakil Munir, 32, Ateeq Latif, 17, and Sakib Ahmed, 19, groomed girls with offers of takeaway food, free lifts and sometimes drugs.

At Teesside Crown Court, Munir and Ahmed were both jailed for eight years and Latif was sentenced to three years in a young offenders' institution.

Sexual offences prevention orders were issued for all three.

Munir and Ahmed also received driving bans of eight and six years respectively.

During the six-week trial, the three, who are all from Middlesbrough, were described as "loosely connected", and the charges related to a total of seven victims, some of whom were known to each other.

Pizza shop worker Ahmed, of Cambridge Road, admitted five counts of sexual activity with a child before the trial of the other defendants in November.

Taxi driver Munir, of Tollesby Road, who denied the charges, was found guilty of four counts of sexual activity with a child and one of child abduction.

The court heard how he would take the girls out in his car and pressure them into giving him oral sex or full intercourse.

Latif, of Abingdon Road, also denied the charges, but was found guilty of two counts of arranging or facilitating commission of a child sex offence.

His victims were both aged 14. He was cleared of another count of the same charge.

'Minds in turmoil'

Passing sentence, Judge John Walford said it was "quite clear" the now "scarred" girls were "objects for sexual pleasure".

"In reality they were children who lacked the maturity of experience to cope with your manipulative ways. It is apparent that for some, their minds are in turmoil.

"I openly express the hope that after today the sort of unpleasantness to which those girls have been subjected will cease and they can be allowed to put these events behind them," he said.

The court heard how the victims had suffered "considerable, ongoing damage" which was continuing at school and in abusive messages on Facebook.

Outside court, two of the victims' mothers said the girls "have been tortured and are still being tortured".

Gillian Milton, Violence Against Women and Girls co-ordinator for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "In spite of their vulnerability, the victims have shown significant courage throughout this trial and I would hope that today's sentence brings them some measure of closure."

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