Seven guilty of sexual abuse of girls in Rotherham

Seven men have been found guilty of a string of sex offences against two teenage girls in Rotherham, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has confirmed.

The girls were aged between 11 and 16 at the time of the offences in the early 2000s when they were groomed and often plied with alcohol or cannabis before being raped or sexually assaulted, the agency said.

The NCA said the evidence in this case “was some of the most harrowing we have come across” and that the offences involved “some of the most serious yet investigated” by officers working on Operation Stovewood – the agency’s huge investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

It said the girls would often be collected by their abusers from the children’s homes where they lived at the time.

The attacks took place at locations around Rotherham, including in a park, in a car in a supermarket car park, in a cemetery, and even behind a children’s nursery.

The NCA said the jury was told how one of the girls was taken to a hotel where she was raped by two men.

The same girl was also locked inside one of her abusers’ homes where she was raped on at least two occasions before escaping by climbing out of a window.

The men were found guilty of a series of offences on Wednesday following a nine week trial at Sheffield Crown Court, the agency said. They are:

Mohammed Amar, 42, of Elizabeth Way, Rotherham, who was found guilty of two counts of indecently assaulting an 11-year-old girl.

Yasser Ajaibe, 39, of Walter Street, Rotherham, who was found guilty of indecently assaulting an 11-year-old girl.

Mohammed Zameer Sadiq, 49, of Richard Road, Rotherham, who was found guilty of rape and sexual intercourse with a girl under 13 years old.

Mohammed Siyab, 44, of Stevenson Drive, Rotherham, was found guilty of two counts of rape, sexual intercourse with a girl under 13 years and trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation.

Abid Saddiq, 43, formerly of Rotherham, was found guilty of three counts of rape, including one of girl under 13, and indecently assaulting of a 12-year-old girl.

Tahir Yasin, 38, of Burngreave Street, Sheffield, was found guilty of eight counts of rape.

Ramin Bari, 37, of Derby Street, Sheffield, was found guilty of four counts of rape.

They will be sentenced on September 12 and 13 at the same court.

The prosecution follows a five year investigation by officers from the NCA’s Operation Stovewood, which is the UK’s biggest investigation into child abuse.

It was set up in the wake of the Jay Report, which sent a shockwave across the nation in 2014 when it found that at least 1,400 girls were abused, trafficked and groomed by gangs of men of mainly Pakistani heritage in the town between 1997 and 2013.

The report by Professor Alexis Jay – who is now chairing the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – prompted a swathe of resignations and further inquiries after it emerged how police, social workers and other agencies had done little to tackle the issue.

NCA Senior Investigating Officer Stuart Cobb said on Wednesday: “The evidence we heard from these victims was some of the most harrowing we have come across, and the offences involved some of the most serious yet investigated by officers working on Operation Stovewood.

“I pay tribute to the bravery of these two victims in coming forward and telling their stories. It was key to getting these convictions and I hope they feel that justice has finally been done.

“What happened to them was appalling. Their attackers were cruel, manipulative men, who thought it was fine to take advantage of vulnerable young girls and dehumanise their victims in the worst possible ways.”

Last Autumn, the NCA insisted “this does not mean we are walking away” as it announced that, from January, new allegations would be handled by South Yorkshire Police rather than Operation Stovewood.

The agency said it is “confident that we have done all we realistically can to identify those individuals who may have been victims”, saying it has identified more than 1,100 children involved in the exploitation between 1997 and 2013 – almost all girls.

More than 1,150 victims have now been identified and more than 300 designated suspects identified.

The NCA said Operation Stovewood has seen more than 200 arrests and Wednesday’s verdicts mean 33 convictions have been secured.

The agency said it remains committed to seeing its current investigations through to the end of the criminal justice process, which is anticipated to continue into 2027.

It has said that Operation Stovewood is the single largest law enforcement operation of its kind ever undertaken in the UK and, at its height, had a staff of more than 200.

Previous estimates have put the cost of Operation Stovewood at around £90 million.

Zoe Becker, legal manager for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “These defendants waged a campaign of violence against the two girls, who had to endure some of the most traumatic abuse on multiple occasions.”

Ms Becker added: “This is the largest case prosecuted under Operation Stovewood this year. I hope this conviction sends a clear message that the CPS, working alongside law enforcement, will relentlessly pursue justice and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, whenever that abuse took place.”