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Rotherham abuse trial: Six guilty of sex offences

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  • Rotherham child abuse scandal
image copyrightSouth Yorkshire Police
image captionArshid Hussain (left) and Basharat (centre) were found guilty, while Bannaras Hussain (right) admitted 10 offences before the trial started

Six people, including three brothers and their uncle, have been convicted of the "systematic" sexual abuse of teenage girls in Rotherham.

Brothers Arshid and Basharat Hussain were found guilty of multiple rapes and indecent assaults in the South Yorkshire town.

A third brother, Bannaras Hussain, 36, admitted 10 charges including rape and indecent assault prior to the trial.

Their uncle, Qurban Ali, 53, was found guilty of conspiracy to rape.

Two women, Karen MacGregor, 58, and Shelley Davies, 40, were convicted of conspiracy to procure prostitutes and false imprisonment.

media captionDet Ch Insp Martin Tate: "I'm pleased that (victims') voices have finally been heard"

All six will be sentenced on Friday.

Brothers 'were infamous' in town

During the trial, jurors heard how 15 victims were "targeted, sexualised and in some instances subjected to acts of a degrading and violent nature" between 1987 and 2003.

Arshid Hussain was found guilty of 23 of the 28 charges he faced, while Basharat Hussain was convicted of all 15 charges.

Ali was found not guilty of charges of rape, indecent assault and procuring a girl under 21 to have unlawful sex with another.

Majid Bostan, 37 and Sajid Bostan, 38, who are also brothers, were cleared of all charges at Sheffield Crown Court.

image copyrightSouth Yorkshire Police
image captionKaren MacGregor and Shelley Davies were found guilty after the trial at Sheffield Crown Court

Some of the women abused by the gang sat in the court as the verdicts were returned by the jury, some holding hands with each other.

Det Ch Insp Martin Tate said the verdicts were a "crucial milestone for those victims who have endured years of violence and horrific sexual abuse at the hands of these vile individuals".

He said: "I can't begin to put into word the trauma that these women experienced at such a young age.

"I'm pleased that their voices have finally been heard and believed and that those responsible have been publicly held to account for their crimes."

image copyrightSouth Yorkshire Police
image captionQurban Ali was found guilty of conspiracy to rape

'Degrading and violent'

One victim, who is now 43, went to live with MacGregor after she was befriended by her and Davies in the late 1980s.

While she lived there, she told the court, men were brought to the house and she was told to have sex with them in exchange for being looked after.

media captionThis woman, who was abused from the age of 14, said her education and mental health had been affected

A second woman, now 36, was subjected to regular sex attacks by Arshid Hussain - also known as Mad Ash - who passed her round to other men when she was in the care of the local authority.

Peter Mann, from the Crown Prosecution Service said: "These defendants in their differing ways targeted these teenage girls because they were vulnerable and then facilitated their systematic sexual abuse.

"They were mocked and spat at, some of the violence was extreme and protracted.

Arshid Hussain in particular had "played a key role" in the abuse, Mr Mann added.

"He was domineering and in some instances brutal in his treatment of the girls.

"He used them for his own gratification then often prostituted them or passed them on to his brothers or associates."

image copyrightPA
image captionPeter Mann from the CPS, temporary Det Ch Insp Martin Tate, and Ian Thomas from Rotherham Council spoke outside court after the case

A youth worker in the town, who wrote an unpublished report for the Home Office in 2002 on child sexual exploitation, said the men had considered themselves above the law.

Adele Gladman said: "They were being allowed to do it completely unchallenged and I think that did definitely give them a feeling of invincibility.

"I don't think I have ever encountered the levels of sadism and torture and sheer cruelty that we were encountering against children."

Ian Thomas, strategic director for Children and Young People's Services at Rotherham Council, paid tribute to the "tremendous bravery and fortitude" shown by the victims during the two-month trial.

He said the verdicts had brought "some justice", but there was "more to be done" and urged other victims of abuse to come forward.

"If you have suffered abuse in the past or indeed are suffering from abuse or exploitation now, step forward. I urge you. I implore you to have confidence in a new Rotherham partnership today."

Dan Johnson, North of England correspondent, BBC News

This is the first trial to come to court since the revelation that 1,400 children in Rotherham were groomed and abused. Even more stunning was that the authorities had ignored repeated warnings.

They preferred instead to protect the reputation of the town, or to avoid rocking race relations in Rotherham but in doing so police officers and social workers missed many opportunities to investigate abuse on a huge scale.

Twelve of the victims - or survivors as they call themselves - were finally able to tell their stories during this case. Their evidence was harrowing and much of it too upsetting to report: it included stories of being raped and forced to act as prostitutes and claims they asked for help but did not get it.

There are many more victims out there. The police and local council hope these convictions will give them the confidence to come forward.

The jury heard the Hussain brothers had held a grip over the town and had connections with police officers and some local politicians.

That is all part of explaining why it took so long for these abuse survivors to get justice and why so many other victims are still waiting for it.

Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham, said she admired the courage of the victims who had come forward but said the case was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the abuse of children.

"This is not just going on in Rotherham. It is going on in every town, village and city across the country.

image captionRotherham MP Sarah Champion has described the abuse as a national scandal

"The problem, the sadness, is that it tends to only be once there's been a national scandal or national recognition of the problem that then the services do actually step up and start acting, start protecting the children, the young people and start getting the convictions.

"So, in Rotherham's case, it had the biggest wake-up call internationally that any town possibly could. And yes, moving forward it is starting to get a really good system in place."

The story of one of the victims in the case featured in an article in the Times in 2013 which prompted the following police investigation.

Andrew Norfolk, chief investigative reporter at the paper, said hearing the verdicts in court had been a "big day".

"Twelve months before we told the story of the girl that triggered all this we had presented evidence from more than 200 confidential reports.

"They laid bare that for more than a decade in Rotherham organised groups of men had been able to target, pimp and traffic girls with virtual impunity and that it was known about.

media captionThe three brothers "held a grip over Rotherham and some of its most vulnerable young women" - Dan Johnson reports

"They [the police and the council] were in complete denial. Then we told this girl's story and finally that created the impetus for the change that is now coming."

'Complete disgrace'

The scandal of the extent of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham finally emerged with the publication of a report by Professor Alexis Jay in August 2014.

She found at least 1,400 children had been raped, trafficked and groomed in the town over a 16-year period and that a number of perpetrators were adult men of Pakistani heritage.

Council and police officials had failed to act, the report added.

The report prompted several resignations including South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright, who had previously been a Rotherham councillor in charge of children's services between 2005 and 2010.

It also led to the government appointing commissioners to run Rotherham Council.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is also involved in 55 investigations into how South Yorkshire Police dealt with child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

Dr. Alan Billings, the current South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "It was a complete disgrace and that's the awful legacy that the force has had to deal with and to accept, first of all, and there must be no denial about this, they must say and I think they have done, that yes these awful things were done in the past, it was wrong it was bad and they've had to recover from that."

He said the force had changed and was determined to offer the victims of child sexual exploitation justice.

The defendants

Arshid Hussain, 40, High Street, East Cowick, Goole, was convicted of 23 of the 28 charges he faced, including indecent assault and rape.

Basharat Hussain, 39, of no fixed abode, was convicted of all 15 charges he faced, including two counts of rape.

Bannaras Hussain, 36, of Bridge Close, Goole, pleaded guilty before the trial to 10 charges including rape, indecent assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Qurban Ali, 53, Clough Road, Rotherham, was convicted of conspiracy to rape, but cleared of three other charges including rape.

Karen MacGregor, 58, Barnsley Road, Wath, South Yorkshire, was convicted of of conspiracy to procure prostitutes and false imprisonment.

Shelley Davies, 40, Wainwright Road, Kimberworth Park, Rotherham, was found guilty of conspiracy to procure prostitutes and false imprisonment.

Majid Bostan, 37, Ledsham Road, Rotherham, was acquitted of one charge of indecent assault.

Sajid Bostan, 38, Broom Avenue, Rotherham, was acquitted of seven charges, including four counts of rape.

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