Rochdale grooming leader guilty of child rape

Shabir Ahmed
Image caption Ahmed was said to be "a violent and controlling man"

The jailed leader of a Rochdale sex ring has been found guilty of 30 child rape charges.

Shabir Ahmed, 59, of Oldham, was one of nine men convicted of sex offences against children at Liverpool Crown Court in May.

He was not named at the time because he faced further charges, but was jailed for 19 years.

He has been found guilty at Manchester Crown Court of raping and sexually abusing a girl for more than a decade.

Prosecuting, Rachel Smith said Ahmed, of Windsor Road, had treated his victim as a "possession" which he used for his own sexual gratification.

She said he had been "a violent and controlling man" who had abused the girl on "an almost weekly basis".

"She tried to make him stop, but it was to no avail," she said.

The court was told the victim felt a sense of shame about what happened to her, which had stopped her reporting it to the police for many years.

Ms Smith said the reality of what he had done "was never far from her thoughts" and that she had described "having dreams about it".

Judge Mushtaq Khokhar adjourned sentencing until August to allow for the preparation of a pre-sentence report.

'Horrific abuse'

Speaking after the verdict, Det Ch Supt Mary Doyle said Ahmed's victim had "shown phenomenal bravery to come forward and tell the police about what happened to her".

"We already knew Ahmed was an integral part of the Rochdale grooming case - now we can also say his horrific campaign of abuse began many years ago with the systematic rape of this one victim," she said.

Ahmed was one of the nine men from Rochdale and Oldham who were found guilty of exploiting girls as young as 13 at two takeaway restaurants in the Heywood area of Rochdale.

Ms Doyle said he had been "the ringleader of a loosely connected on-street grooming ring" and had been "the common denominator in a group of men who raped and abused girls aged between 13 and 17 at the time of the offences".

The case sparked protests and vandalism in Heywood and caused national debate about the safety of children in care and whether race was a factor in on-street grooming.

Ahmed was found guilty at Liverpool Crown Court of two rapes, aiding and abetting rape, sexual assault and trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Sentencing him in May, Judge Gerald Clifton said Ahmed was an "unpleasant and hypocritical bully" who had ordered a 15-year-old girl to have sex with one of his fellow gang members as a birthday "treat".

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