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Five Men Found Guilty of Sexually Exploiting Two Girls in Rochdale

Two brothers are among five men from Rochdale to have been found guilty of sexually exploiting two girls from the ages of 12 and 13.

The girls were “mere objects for the defendants to use, abuse, humiliate then discard”, Manchester Minshull Street crown court heard.

The jury had been warned not to be prejudiced against the defendants simply because of where they were from, with one defence barrister saying Rochdale had become “synonymous with grooming”.

The men had denied 80 counts dating back to 2002 and 2006, when some of them were teenagers.

The complainants are both now 33. Their abuse first came to light in 2015 when one of them, Girl A, took part in a parenting course in Rochdale and revealed she had been groomed from the age of 12.

On Thursday, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Mohammed Ghani, 38, of Bamford Way, Rochdale; Insar Hussain, 38, of Bishop Street, Rochdale; Jahn Shahid Ghani, 50, of Whitworth Road, Rochdale; and Ali Razza Hussain Kasmi, 36, of Brotherod Hall Road, Rochdale, were found guilty of various child sexual abuse offences.

A fifth man, Martin Rhodes, 39, of Dinmore Avenue, Blackpool, pleaded guilty to four counts of penetrative sex with a child, the CPS said.

Jurors cleared Ikhlaq Yousef, 38, of Stanley Street, Rochdale, Aftar Khan, 34, of Sparth Bottoms Road, Rochdale, and Mohammed Iqbal, 67, of Gainsborough Drive, Rochdale, of any wrongdoing.

The trial was the biggest child sexual exploitation crown court case involving men from Rochdale since 2012, when nine men were convicted of grooming and abusing girls as young as 13.

Maggie Oliver, a former Greater Manchester police (GMP) officer turned whistleblower, who quit in 2013 in a protest over how the force dealt with victims in Rochdale, welcomed the latest convictions, saying they would prevent the men from “destroying other young lives”.

She said she was “horrified” that it had taken eight years for Girl A to get justice, adding: “The system needs to change.”

The trial is the first to emerge from Operation Lytton, a GMP inquiry set up to investigate child abuse, primarily focused around the testimony of Girl A and Girl B. They are expected to give evidence at a further four trials in 2024 and 2025, the GMP chief constable, Stephen Watson, has said.

This is the second trial in which Girl A has been involved. The jury was told that in 2016 two Rochdale men had pleaded guilty to inciting her into sex work under a different GMP investigation. One, Gul Zaman, was sentenced to 10 years. Another, Mohammed Ishaque, received 11 years.

Some of the defendants in the latest trial accused her of exaggerating the number of men who had abused her in order to claim compensation.

The jury heard she had already received £27,500 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) after the 2016 convictions.

Since 2019, she has been locked in a battle with the CICA for damages relating to the abuse perpetrated by men involved in this latest trial, turning down an initial offer for £22,000 on the grounds that “this is the biggest grooming case in the UK”.

Giving evidence behind a screen, Girl A insisted she was not “in it for the money” and had asked for a review of the second payout on the grounds that it was unfair.

She told the jury that she deserved more, because she was going to have to testify at five trials. “It’s split into five trials because there are 50 different men,” she said.

Some of the men were school friends, and were accused of passing the girls around between them.

Girl A said the abuse began when she was 12 and she met Mohammed Faisal Ghani, who would then have been 17 or 18. She claimed he took her to a remote moor above Rochdale and raped her, and then passed her around to his school friends.

She said Ghani introduced her to his older half-brother Jahn Shahid Ghani, who was then in his early 30s.

The older Ghani, a care worker for people with disabilities, was the only defendant to give evidence, telling the jury the girls were his “friends with benefits” and he thought they were over 16. He said he thought the complainants were over the age of consent because they had jobs and wore make-up.

He admitted having ecstasy-fuelled sex with the girls when they were only 14 or 15 – including threesomes with one of his adult girlfriends – two of whom gave evidence to the trial.

Girl A told police she felt “guilty” for accusing Ghani of abuse. “I feel guilty for getting him in trouble even though it’s his fault. He shouldn’t have done this stuff to me but he made me feel loved in a way,” she said, breaking down in tears.

She added: “I feel like he was one of my best friends. I feel like a snake in the grass.”

After the verdicts, Frances Killeen, senior crown prosecutor for CPS North West’s complex casework unit, said: “These men committed appalling offences for their own sexual gratification, with no thought for the lasting effects their offending would have on their victims.

“I would like to thank the two victims for coming forward and supporting a prosecution. I hope they can find some comfort in knowing their abusers will finally face the consequences of their actions.

“The CPS is determined to ensure justice for as many sexual abuse survivors as possible.”

Sentencing will take place at a later date.

Source: The Guardian