Gang Guilty of Abusing Vulnerable Girls
A gang of men have been convicted of a catalogue of offences against vulnerable girls who were preyed on and abused.
The group of men picked up the girls in the street, plied them with alcohol, then took them to "parties" where they were often used for sex.
An undercover investigation by Derbyshire Police, dubbed Operation Retriever, was split into three trials which have run since February. At the culmination of the third case on Wednesday, two of the gang's ringleaders received more convictions for sex crimes at Leicester Crown Court.
Thirteen men were charged in relation to Operation Retriever and 11 stood trial for a string of charges - not all sexual - relating to the case, which involved 26 victims, one as young as 12. Out of the original 13, a total of nine stood convicted on Wednesday.
At the opening of the first trial, held at Nottingham Crown Court, prosecutor Yvonne Coen QC said: "They preyed on young girls who were vulnerable, either because of their age and because of their own personal circumstances. They exploited these girls either for their own sexual satisfaction or for their friends."
Detective Superintendent Debbie Platt, who led the police enquiry said: "This was the most complex case of child abuse the Derbyshire Constabulary has ever faced.
"Without the close working relationship between partners and the bravery of the girls who were victims of this horrendous sexual exploitation, the case would never have come to court.
"Most of the girls who became victims were in their early teens and were from difficult backgrounds. These men preyed on their vulnerability. The girls were looking for love and support and they believed the perpetrators of these vile crimes would give them what they craved. Instead they were raped, abused and intimidated.
"Before and during the trial these girls have shown amazing courage and determination to see the men who subjected them to unbelievable cruelty brought to justice."
CCTV footage of Liaqat buying vodka at a petrol station, then Liaqat and Saddique cruising the streets of Derby in a BMW. (The girls in the video are not victims):
Abid Mohammed Saddique, 27, and Mohammed Romaan Liaqat, 28 - both married with children - were said to be the leaders of the gang. Saddique, of Northumberland Street, Normanton, Derby, was convicted of four counts of rape as well as two counts of false imprisonment, two of sexual assault, three charges of sexual activity with a child, perverting the course of justice, and aiding and abetting rape.
Liaqat, of Briar Lea Close, Sinfin, Derby, was found guilty of one count of rape, two of sexual assault, aiding and abetting rape, affray, and four counts of sexual activity with a child. Both pleaded guilty to causing a person under 18 to be involved in pornography. They will be sentenced on January 7.
Other defendants have already been convicted and sentenced. Akshay Kumar, 38, admitted one count of causing a person under the age of 18 to be involved in pornography and was jailed for two years and 10 months.
Faisal Mehmood, 24, pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a child before the trial and was jailed for three years. He has now been deported to Pakistan. Mohammed Imran Rehman, 26, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years after being found guilty of rape, while Graham Blackham, 26, was given a three-year sentence after he was convicted of two counts of breaching a sexual offences prevention order.
Liaqat's brother Naweed Liaqat, 33, and Farooq Ahmed, 28, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and were both jailed for 18 months. Ziafat Yasin, 31, was cleared of sex charges but pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine. He was jailed for three years.