Three brothers who ‘ruled Rotherham’ have finally been brought to justice for years of raping, torturing and prostituting young girls with impunity.
Vulnerable girls – often living in council-run care children’s homes – were subjected to appalling physical and sexual abuse in the town before often being trafficked to Sheffield and other parts of the country where they would be forced to have sex with gangs of Asian men.
Arshid and Basharat Hussain have been found guilty of dozens of child sexual exploitation offences following a two-month trial at Sheffield Crown Court – while it can now be reported their younger brother Bannaras pleaded guilty at the start of the case in December.
The gun-toting, drug-dealing brothers – known as Mad Ash, Bash and Bono – led a gang in the abuse, with children raped, beaten, passed between offenders and used as prostitutes.
The jury were never told that Bannaras Hussain had admitted offences against seven victims over an 11-year period, including rape, indecent assault, procuring a woman to become a prostitute and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Four of the girls he abused between October 1990 and December 2001 went on to give evidence against the other defendants in the trial, but were repeatedly accused of being ‘liars’ out for compensation by defence barristers despite the lawyers’ knowledge of the guilty pleas.
A major investigation into allegations of police corruption is now under way after the trial heard allegations some officers had colluded with offenders to protect them from prosecution – and had passed information and drugs to the gang while reports of abuse went ignored.
It can also now be reported that ringleader Arshid Hussain made attempts to stop the case on the grounds he was too ill to stand trial.
Special arrangements were made during the trial for Hussain, who was portrayed as the gang’s ringleader and claims to be paraplegic, to watch proceedings via video link from his bed at home in Goole.
On December 14, Judge Sarah Wright rejected an application from Hussain’s legal team that he was unfit to stand trial because pain from pressures sores connected with him being paralysed after being shot in 2005 meant he was unable to concentrate properly on proceedings.
The court heard Hussain – who the trial heard has children with at least seven women – had recently ‘made initial enquiries about fertility treatment’ with his wife.
Judge Wright said: “He is clearly therefore well enough to contemplate the prospect of family life with a baby.”
On February 1 at the end of the prosecution case, Hussain’s lawyers made an application to discharge the jury in the case on the grounds he was too unwell to give ‘meaningful evidence’ and could not receive a fair trial.
Judge Wright again rejected the application, saying she was ‘entirely satisfied’ he had been able to participate in the trial, given his barristers had set out his defence and cross-examined witnesses at ‘considerable length’ on his behalf.
As the sentences were read out at court, Arshid’s wife called an ambulance and he was taken to hospital, despite his bail being revoked.
Michelle Colborne QC, prosecuting, said this appeared to be a deliberate attempt to frustrate the judicial process.
Ms Colborne said: “Mr Hussain is en route to Scunthorpe Hospital. I understand he is unwell. He’s not speaking to the police with him.
“I have instructed the police to ask him directly whether he’s willing to attend court or whether he determined to disobey your honour’s order.”
Arshid, aged 40, and Basharat, 39, were found guilty of multiple rapes and indecent assaults following a trial at Sheffield Crown Court.
Bannaras, 36, had admitted 10 charges including rape, indecent assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm at the start of the trial.
Their uncle, Qurban Ali, 53, was convicted of conspiracy to rape. Karen MacGregor, 58, and Shelley Davies, 40, were found guilty of conspiracy to procure prostitutes and false imprisonment.
Brothers Majid Bostan, 37 and Sajid Bostan, 38, were cleared of all charges.
Some of the 15 women who were abused by the gang watched the verdicts from the public gallery overlooking the packed court, some holding hands with each other.
Andrew Norfolk, the journalist from The Times whose reporting led to the criminal investigation starting, said today: “It is a landmark day for Rotherham.
“We have had so many reports and inquiries and resignations.
“This trial was the concrete physical reality - young women whose childhoods were stolen, whose lives were broken by these brothers.
“For these young women finally to have their day in court, finally to tell a jury what happened to them all those years ago and crucially to be believed, it is a very important day for them.”
The six convicted people will be sentenced tomorrow.