Takeaway brothel boss hounded girls for sex
A Carlisle takeaway boss has been convicted of attempting to recruit four girls aged between 12 and 16 into prostitution.
Azad Miah, 44, was also found guilty at Carlisle Crown Court of running a brothel from his business and paying for the sexual services of teenagers.
The owner of the former Spice of India restaurant had denied all charges.
He was found guilty of inciting four girls into prostitution, and cleared of the same allegation against two others.
He was also convicted of paying for the sexual services of two girls.
Miah, who was warned that he faced a "substantial" prison term, will be sentenced on Tuesday.
The court was told that the married father-of-four hounded and stalked the girls to try to persuade them to have sex for money.
He was described as carrying out a "cold, clinical exploitation of the desperate and vulnerable", targeting girls with drug or alcohol addictions, or with troubled backgrounds.
In his opening address, prosecutor Tim Evans said: "It is the Crown's case that the defendant deliberately targeted girls who fell into that category or who had other problems with the law.
"The defendant believed that such girls would be more likely to give in to his persistent offers... and they may find themselves less likely to be believed if they complained to the police against a responsible, respected restaurateur of the city."
The jury heard that one girl complained to police about Miah persistently harassing her in 2008, three years before he was arrested, but gave up when no action was taken.
Miah came from Bangladesh to England with his family in 1982, married his Bangladeshi wife seven years later, and opened the Spice of India in 2000.
The restaurant and takeaway in Botchergate is now operating with new owners and a new name.
Miah was convicted of paying one girl for sex a number of times when she was aged between 15 and 17. She used the money to fund her heroin addiction.
Following his arrest he claimed that the relationship did not begin until she was 18.
Another 15-year-old - whom he incited into prostitution - was paid £80 for sex after being told on her first day of work at the takeaway that she could make "big money".
He later claimed he had given the girls money out of generosity, and they had got together and concocted stories in revenge when the money stopped.
Det Con Christy Robertson, who interviewed Miah after his arrest, described him as "arrogant".
She said: "I would say that he showed contempt for the girls, he was dismissive of them.
"He was disrespectful to me. If I challenged him in any way then he was across the table with fingers [pointing] in my face.
"I think that he thought it was a joke to him."
Following his conviction, Linda Vance, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "He preyed on these particular girls because he thought they were easier to exploit because of their vulnerability.
"Even though he knew that they were under 16 he repeatedly approached them, followed them and bombarded them with text messages, sometimes for weeks at a time, pestering them for sex in exchange for money, drugs or alcohol."
She added: "Azad Miah is a sexual predator.
"Through the detailed investigations by the police, the thorough preparation of the case by the prosecutors, and most importantly the courage of his victims in coming forward, he is now facing justice."