Shropshire

Fourth Telford man guilty of sexually assaulting girl

(L-R) Mohammed Ali Sultan, Mohammad Rizwan, Shafiq Younas and Amjad Hussain Image copyright West Mercia Police
Image caption Mohammed Ali Sultan, Mohammad Rizwan, Shafiq Younas and Amjad Hussain were convicted by a jury

A fourth man from Telford has been convicted of sexually abusing a vulnerable young girl who was "passed around like a piece of meat".

Three defendants were on Tuesday found guilty of abusing the girl, who said she was forced to perform sex acts in a churchyard and was raped above a shop.

Shafiq Younas, 35 of Regent Street, Wellington, was found guilty of indecent assault on Wednesday.

Nazam Akhtar, 35, of Victoria Avenue, Wellington was cleared of rape.

Amjad Hussain, 38, of Acacia Drive, Leegomery, Telford, who was unanimously convicted of a single count of indecent assault on Tuesday, was cleared by jurors on Wednesday of a similar offence.

Mohammed Ali Sultan, 33, formerly of Telford, was convicted of rape and three counts of indecent assault.

Jurors heard how he already had previous convictions, in 2012 and 2015, for "similar offences against young girls".

Mohammad Rizwan, 37, of Mafeking Road, Telford, was found guilty of two counts of indecent assault.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The trial was heard at Birmingham Crown Court

The offences took place in the Telford area some time between 2000 and 2003, which prosecutors opening the case started when the girl was 12 years old.

The victim said she was assaulted by other as-yet unidentified males, with the abuse continuing until she was in her mid-teens.

Opening the trial, Michelle Heeley QC had said: "This case involves the sexual exploitation of a young girl, a girl passed around like a piece of meat for the sexual gratification of several young men, some of whom are in the dock."

Jurors were told the vulnerable victim was sold for sex, first by a man named Tanveer Ahmed.

Ahmed, who delivered for Perfect Pizza in the town, was not on trial alongside the other defendants, having been deported to Pakistan, the court heard.

Jurors did not hear how Ahmed, formerly of Urban Gardens in Wellington, was jailed for two and a half years after admitting a charge of controlling a child sex abuse victim following West Mercia Police's Operation Chalice inquiry into child sex abuse in Telford.

Ali Sultan was also among the seven men originally convicted as part of Operation Chalice.

During the trial, the victim said no action was taken by teachers when rumours of the abuse circulated at her school and she had "lost count" of how many men she was forced to have sex with after being groomed and then sold for sex.

She told police that, years after the abuse ended, she recognised photos of Ali Sultan and Ahmed from press reports on the Telford sex ring.

Asked why she did not tell anyone about exactly what happened until years later, she replied: "I think I had just had enough, I kept it to myself for all these years."

As an adult, she picked out each of the five men at police identification parades.

Image copyright Gavin Dickson
Image caption An independent inquiry is ongoing into child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Telford

An independent inquiry is ongoing into child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Telford, after claims thousands of girls may have been abused in the town since the 1980s.

Clive Jones, director of children's services at Telford & Wrekin Council, said it welcomed the latest convictions.

"While we do everything within our power to raise awareness of this issue, ultimately the responsibility for dealing with the perpetrators rests with the police and the criminal justice system and we are pleased in this instance that they have been able to bring perpetrators to justice," he said.

The men will be sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday.

Julia McSorley, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "These defendants denied what they did to this child, forcing her to relive the awful events of those years at this trial.

"In the selfish pursuit of their own sexual gratification, these men have burdened this victim with the significant and lasting effects of their offending.

"Our thoughts are with her and the Crown Prosecution Service would like to thank her for her incredible courage in giving evidence and securing the convictions of the men who carried out these dreadful offences."

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