Woman realised she was victim after 2012 sex grooming trial

  • By ITV News correspondent Damon Green

On May 13 2012, a young woman walked into Bury police station, and told officers that she had been the victim of sexual grooming.

She had grown up in the town of Rochdale, in Greater Manchester. She had watched TV reports of a trial at Liverpool crown court, where nine men from the town were jailed on child sex charges.

And she had come to realise that she, too, had suffered the same - as a child, seven years before.

Top (left to right): Choudry Ikhalaq Hussain (who has absconded), Afraz Ahmed, Abid Khan and David Law. Bottom (left to right): Mahfuz Rahman, Mohammed Zahid, Mohammed Daudood, Kutab Miah and Rehan Ali. Credit: ITV News

Over a series of interviews with police spanning two-and-a-half years, the woman - now in her 20s - would provide enough evidence to help convict 10 men for a total of over 125 years.

Not all the crimes were committed against herself. But what she told officers helped them to corroborate the allegations of seven other women.

In fact, the volume of evidence was so great that it required two separate crown court trials to hear it all.

Two juries convicted Choudry Ikhalaq Hussain, Rehan Ali, Kutab Miah, Mohammed Daudood, Abid Khan, Mohammed Zahid, David Law, Afraz Ahmed - and another man who cannot be named for legal reasons - of 42 crimes against eight girls over a period of eight years. Another man, Mahfuz Rahman, pleaded guilty.

Drug dealer Afraz Ahmed was known as 'The Warden' because he was once employed as a neighbourhood warden. Credit: Greater Manchester Police

These men were never a `gang'. In fact, police have never been able to explain why so many men were able to exploit the young woman at the centre of this case. But to two juries, their guilt was plain enough.

The worst offender before them was Afraz Ahmed, a drug dealer who operated from his flat above a convenience store in Rochdale.

He was known as `The Warden' to his victim because he had once been employed as a neighbourhood warden, and she recognised his uniform. It was his drug dealing which brought him into contact with her as a 14 year old.

But he was known to police as early as 2006, when he was working as a bus driver, and approached two schoolgirls passengers. Their complaints to their parents led to Ahmed being questioned by police. But no action was taken at the time.

Only now has he been convicted for what he did - two of 12 sexual offences against girls for which he has now been sentenced.

Choudry Ikhalaq Hussain absconded during the trial, he is believed to be in Pakistan. Credit: Greater Manchester Police

One of the men, Choudry Ikhalaq Hussain, was sentenced in his absence today on six charges, including rape. He had asked for leave during the trial to attend a family funeral, and used the opportunity to abscond.

A total of 121 years and six months behind bars for the men sentenced today.

But few believe this is the end of the matter.

All the women who gave evidence are now in their 20s, the abuse they suffered took place years ago. They are only recognising with hindsight what happened to them.

Many in Rochdale are concerned that there is another generation of young teenage girls being abused today, whose stories aren't being heard - simply because they don't realise they are victims.