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19 May 2016, 06:26
Two men have been convicted following a six week trial, of involvement in series of 18 sexual exploitation offences against 12 local teenage girls at locations in Littlehampton.
The jury verdicts in each case were unanimous.
The offences were committed between 2010 and 2014 and the victims were aged between 13 and 15 at the time.
The case follows an investigation by Sussex Police child safeguarding detectives, working with local authority and other partners.
Osmon Koroma, a labourer, 31, of Norton Road, Hove, (left in picture) has been convicted of eight offences against five girls. They were; one rape, two sexual assaults and five offences of sexual activity with a child.
Max N'Gasa, a gardener, 25, of Cranmer Avenue, Hove, (right in picture) has been convicted of 10 offences against seven girls. They were; two offences of rape and eight offences of sexual activity with a child.
N'Gasa was found not guilty of one sexual assault and one offence of attempting to carry out sexual activity with a child.
They were remanded in custody for sentencing at Lewes Crown Court at 2pm on Tuesday 7 June.
Koroma and N'Gasa had been arrested on 12 March last year and were charged in October last year, following an intelligence-led child sexual exploitation investigation by detectives from the Sussex Police Safeguarding Investigation Unit (SIU), working with partners including West Sussex Childrens Services.
The investigation focused on reports that local teenage girls, known to the suspects, were sexually exploited between 2010 and 2014.
Detective Chief Inspector Miles Ockwell said; "Young girls were sexually abused by one or other of these defendants and sometimes by both.
"The evidence centred around a flat above a parade of shops in Wick Parade, Littlehampton. Osman Koroma lived there during those years and Max Ngsa was his friend and a frequent visitor there. Both men befriended young schoolgirls who would frequent the shopping parade, groomed them and ultimately exploited them by requesting sexual acts in return for purchasing cigarettes and alcohol on their behalf.
"Some of the victims knew each other, but others did not, as this offending went on with numerous children over four years. Such was the level of grooming that took place, many of the girls considered that they were in relationships with the pair, despite the obvious significant age gap between them.
"Both men, when arrested and interviewed, made complete denials saying that they had never met and did not know the victims and they have maintained this position throughout the trial. In doing so, they have made their victims have to re-live their ordeals all over again by having to tell their stories in court.
"I want to pay tribute to all of the girls who had the courage to stand up in court and tell their stories. In doing so, they have undoubtedly saved other children who may have been targeted by this pair.
"This is a significant case in that it serves to send a message to those who might seek to sexually exploit children within our communities that we, Sussex Police will work with the public and our partners to pursue offenders and bring them to justice as we have done here.
"It also serves as a message to the public that Child Sexual Exploitation does occur in Sussex and it is important that we all understand the tell-tale signs that might suggest that a child is at risk being exploited.
"There is a lot of material available on the internet and I would encourage people to visit our website at http://www.sussex.police.uk/advice/protect-yourself-and-others/child-protection/child-sexual-exploitation-cse/
"Anyone who has any other concerns on learning of this case can always contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 101, quoting Operation Staple. and arrange to talk in confidence to experienced detectives.
"You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
"Sources of counselling and support for anyone who is affected by news of this case or any similar cases is always available through the Saturn Centre (the Sussex Sexual Assault Referral Clinic) on 01293 600469 (9am to 5pm with a 24 hours answerphone) or on their out of hours helpline 0800 033 7797."