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Rochdale grooming trial: how the case unfolded - June-21-12
Source: The Telegraph (Nigel Bunyan)
But after being taken to an interview room by Greater Manchester Police officers, she spent six hours pouring out the horrifying reason for her rage: she had been raped repeatedly by a gang of men, she said, who would ply her with vodka and threaten violence if she did not submit to them.
Shabir Ahmed, 59, who can only now be named after being convicted for a series of other attacks and Kabeer Hassan, 25, were both arrested and questioned, but for reasons that are now the subject of an independent inquiry, no prosecutions were brought.
It meant the 15-year-old, known as Girl A, and scores of others continued to suffer at the hands of a nine-strong paedophile gang of Asian men who preyed on vulnerable white girls they saw as "easy meat".
By the time police finally caught up with them, they had abused 47 girls, according to the police, though the true total is likely to be far higher.
It has left the force, prosecutors and social workers facing uncomfortable questions about whether they failed to act for fear of being accused of racism.
Girl A's unimaginable ordeal began in July 2008 when she was taken to one of two takeaways used by the gang, the Balti House and Tasty Bites, which are both now under new ownership.
Another white teenaged girl, nicknamed The Honey Monster, had turned from victim to abuser and was used by the gang to find them a steady supply of vulnerable youngsters like Girl A, who was living in the same house as her at the time after becoming estranged from her parents.
Girl A had been to the takeaway with The Honey Monster before, and had been given free food, cigarettes, alcohol and taxi rides home.
"It made me feel like I was pretty," she later said. But it was all part of the grooming process by the paedophile gang, and on this occasion she was given vodka until she was "dead drunk" and then invited upstairs by Ahmed, the ringleader of the gang.
"He started talking about all the things he'd bought for me, and how he wanted something back for it," said Girl A, who looked even younger than her 15 years because of her flat chest and petite frame.
"It's part of the deal," he told her. "I bought you vodka, you have to give me something."
She tried to spurn his advances, but he pushed her onto a bare mattress and raped her. As she sobbed afterwards, he said: "Don't cry, I love you."
It was around three weeks later that Girl A was arrested and alerted police to her ordeal, leading to the arrests of Hassan and Ahmed.
Rochdale social services were alerted to her allegations, yet nothing was done to protect her, even though police insist to this day they believed her story.
Yet it took them 11 months to send a file on the case to the Crown Prosecution Service, which decided in July 2009 that Girl A would not be a credible witness in court and did not, therefore, go ahead with a prosecution. The police decided not to contest the decision even though Ahmed had no explanation for how his DNA had been found on Girl A's underwear.
As a result, the worst of Girl A's ordeal came after she had told police what was going on. In the four months after she spoke to police, she was driven around a succession of sordid flats and houses where she would be raped by up to five men each night, four or five days each week.
The only affect the arrests had on the pattern of abuse was that she was passed to the control of Abdul Aziz, 41, a taxi driver who would transport her between the "chill" houses where she would be raped.
Many of her abusers are unlikely ever to be identified, but among them was Kabeer Hassan, to whom she was passed on as "a treat".
The threat of violence was ever-present if she considered trying to escape.
Meanwhile Honey Monster was busily at work finding a steady supply of other girls for the gang to rape, in return for a finder's fee of up to £200 per girl.
One of the abusers, Abdul Rauf, 43, once told her not to take a "little" girl because she was too young, but Honey Monster ignored him, saying another girl had moved away and "the men wanted new girls".
She would later escape prosecution because she, too, had been abused and was seen as a victim who had lost all sense of right and wrong.
The gang also included Mohammed Sajid, 35, Adil Khan, 42, Abdul Quayyum, 43, Mohammed Amin, 44, all but one of whom are taxi drivers of Pakistani origin, and Hamid Safi, an Afghan asylum seeker. They were convicted of charges involving five girls in total.
Among them was Girl E, who had only just turned 13 when Sajid picked her up in his taxi and plied her with vodka before raping her. She later said Sajid and his co-defendants "treat white girls as easy meat".
Another victim, Girl C, became pregnant at 13 by Adil Khan. She said: "Pakistani men pass you round like a ball, they're all in a massive circle and put a white girl in the middle."
When a victim called Girl B was being raped by one of the defendants, Safi interrupted, saying: "I want a turn, I want a turn." Girl B saw him cutting his own arm with a razor blade before he threatened her with it to make her comply. She said: "I'd rather that happen than get my throat slit."
The gang's victims were typically in care or on "at risk" registers, their isolation from their families having turned them to drink, drugs or both.
One of the men on trial in Liverpool said: "You white people train them in sex and drinking, so when they come to us they are fully trained."
Others have told their victims it is fine to sleep with them "because it's what we do in our country".
Girl A finally escaped the gang in December 2008 when teachers noticed how often Asian men were picking her up from school. By then she was pregnant, and social workers said her baby would be taken away at birth if she did not move away from The Honey Monster, so she went back to her parents' home and eventually moved out of the area altogether.
"What they did to me was evil," she said. "They ripped away all my dignity and all my last bit of self-esteem. By the end of it I had no emotion whatsoever."
But it took another two years for the authorities to catch up with the gang. Rochdale's Crisis Intervention Team, an NHS clinic offering advice on abortions and sexual health to vulnerable young women, alerted police after a number of girls came to them with similar stories about being groomed for sex by Asian men.
A wave of arrests followed in December 2010, including Ahmed and Kabeer Hassan, the men who had escaped trial in 2008 because prosecutors did not think a jury would believe Girl A. Yesterday Girl A finally had the satisfaction of seeing the gang convicted after a jury had no difficulty in believing her story, and those of her fellow victims.
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