Police commend courage of sex exploitation victims

Police have commended the courage and bravery of the victims of 10 men who were jailed for sex offences in Rochdale over a five-year period.

Operation Doublet, launched in 2011 to investigate child sexual exploitation in Rochdale, led to the convictions of 10 men who were jailed for a total of 127 years for offences against eight victims.

One of the victims, who made the original complaint, was abused by all of the men between the ages of 14 and 18.

Three of the men - Afraz Ahmed from Rochdale, Mohammed Dauood from Burnley and a 40-year-old man who cannot be named, also committed offences against seven other victims.

The offences took place in and around Rochdale. Credit: ITV News

Senior Investigating Officer Jamie Daniels described the case, that resulted in two trials, as "extremely complex".

I want to commend the victims for the immense bravery they have shown; only with their support have we arrived at this point. The process can be emotionally demanding and traumatic for the victims and we do not underestimate the courage this took. Tackling the sexual exploitation of children and young people is an absolute priority for Greater Manchester Police, but protecting them is the responsibility of us all. It is crucial that we work together to identify individuals who prey on vulnerable children and empower young people to speak up.

Senior Investigating Officer Jamie Daniels

The original complainant, now in her 20s, only realised she had been a victim of sexual exploitation in her teenage years when she saw television reports of a trial in 2012.

The white victim with learning difficulties was said by prosecutors to be an "extremely vulnerable young woman" who had endured "a very difficult home life".

She gave evidence in two separate trials which lasted a total of 15 weeks and looked on from the public gallery during sentencing.

Afraz Ahmed was jailed for 25 years. Credit: Greater Manchester Police

No evidence was put before the court that the men had acted as part of an organised gang or that they all knew each other.

Afraz Ahmed, 33, of Oswald Street, Rochdale was handed the longest sentence of 25 years. He looked dumbfounded when he was told how long he would have to serve in prison.

The public gallery broke into applause and then Ahmed motioned to the judge to ask if he could say something but he was ordered to leave the dock.

Judge John Potter said: "Each of the victims of this offending gave evidence at one trial or the other.

"They were subjected to cross-examination which suggested they were not telling the truth. Each dealt with this ordeal impressively.

"I have little doubt that each of the victims have been affected by your abuse of them to some degree, some far more than others."

He said it was testament to their "bravery, courage and fortitude" they had given evidence in court despite the "appalling way" they were treated.

Following the sentencing Alison Cartmell, Senior Crown Prosecutor from CPS North West Complex Casework Unit also paid tribute to the victims "courage and fortitude".

The offenders targeted their victims because of their age and the vulnerable situations they were in at the time. They pretended to be their friends and, in some cases, their boyfriends, but in fact they set out to groom them and exploit them for their own ends. Some of the men plied their victims with large amounts of alcohol or drugs as a way of controlling or even incapacitating them. Some used violence and threats to intimidate and coerce them into having sex. I hope that today’s outcome will act as a warning to those who abuse and exploit children in this way that tackling these crimes remains a priority for police and prosecutors and I hope it provides other victims of sexual abuse with the confidence to contact the police and to seek support.

Senior Crown Prosecutor, Alison Cartmell

Richard Scorer, from law firm Slater and Gordon, who represented one of the victims, said: "In 20 years of acting for victims in cases of this nature, these are some of the most appalling, sadistic and vile crimes that I have ever encountered.

"These men systematically groomed, abused and raped vulnerable teenage girls to satiate their sexual desires.

"We welcome the sentences that have been imposed. They reflect the horrific nature of their crimes and show that men who perpetrate these appalling offences will be hunted down, prosecuted and jailed.

"I believe there are many more victims of these sorts of crimes and I hope they will come forward in the knowledge that men who commit these crimes will be brought to book."