Takeaway brothel boss Azad Miah jailed for 15 years
A Carlisle takeaway boss has been jailed for 15 years for attempting to recruit four girls aged between 12 and 16 into prostitution.
Azad Miah, 44, was also found guilty of running a brothel from his business and paying two teenagers for sex.
The married father-of-two was owner of the former Spice of India restaurant.
Judge Peter Hughes, QC, said the case at Carlisle Crown Court showed "the seedier side" of UK towns and called for more protection for children.
Miah was cleared of child prostitution allegations relating to two other girls.
Det Insp Geoff Huddlestone of Cumbria Police, said Miah had got the sentence he deserved and that he had "committed heinous crimes".
'Cold and clinical'
The hearing heard that one girl was encouraged to have sex with him out of desperation for cash when she was 15, while he had a sexual relationship with the other, a heroin addict, when she was aged between 15 and 17.
The jury also heard that the Bangladeshi national had targeted "desperate and vulnerable" victims and treated them in a "cold and clinical way".
Passing sentence, Judge Hughes said: "This case reveals the seedier side of life in our town and city centres and what can happen to vulnerable and immature girls.
"There are lessons from this case for all of us to learn. There are lessons for parents to learn whose responsibility it is to protect their children.
"There are lessons for those responsible for safeguarding vulnerable teenagers from deprived backgrounds and without appropriate parental care and guidance."
The court heard the 12-year-old girl had complained to police three times about Miah persistently harassing her in 2008, three years before his arrest.
She said she eventually gave up complaining because nothing was done, although Miah's legal team said there was no official record of her complaints.
Det Insp Geoff Huddleston of Cumbria Police claimed the investigation was hampered because many victims did not want to speak out.
He said "We are not saying that we have not made mistakes, we just did not have the full picture at that time.
"It was a 500-piece jigsaw of which we only had two or three pieces.
"The 12-year-old's complaints were in the form of intelligence snippets rather than formally made allegations."
The hearing also heard that up to 30 potential victims of Miah were approached as part of the investigation but many were reluctant to come forward and give evidence.
Judge Hughes added: "There are lessons to be learnt by the police to be ever vigilant to detect signs of the possible exploitation and abuse of vulnerable people, and to take seriously what they say however chaotic and difficult their lives may be.
"A sad feature of this case is that there were a number of occasions when witnesses complained to police or community support officers about the defendant pestering them but their complaints were not taken further.
"As a result, opportunities were missed."
He also said that Miah had targeted his victims because of their troubled lives.
Judge Hughes said: "Over a number of years, behind the veil of a seemingly respectable business, you preyed on the immaturity and vulnerability of young girls from troubled and chaotic home backgrounds.
"You sought to draw them into a life of drug dependency and sleazy sex for money. When you did not desire their sexual services for yourself you made them available to others.
"Your conduct corrodes the foundations of decency and respect by which all right-thinking people live their lives whatever their ethnic or religious background."