Judge slams 'ineffectual' authorities as five men are jailed for sex attacks on Rotherham girls
A Sheffield judge has branded authorities ‘totally ineffectual’ and ‘wholly indifferent’ to the plight of sexually exploited teenage girls in Rotherham, as he jailed five men for a total of 63 years.
Aftab Hussain, 40, was sentenced to 24 years behind bars and Abid Saddiq, 38, who was described as a ‘cunning and determined sexual predator’, was locked up for 20.
Masaued Malik, 35, was jailed for five years; Sharaz Hussain, 35, for four years; and one man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed for 10 years.
Malik was told that his sentence will follow on from a 15-year term he is already serving for similar offences.
Jailing them, Judge Michael Slater said he was ‘quite satisfied’ that the ‘relevant authorities’ were well aware of the way vulnerable teenagers in the South Yorkshire town were being targeted for sexual exploitation more than a decade ago.
He described it as a ‘lamentable state of affairs,’ claiming that the authorities at the time were, at best, ‘totally ineffectual’ and, at worst, ‘wholly indifferent’.
Today’s sentencing followed the latest trial to arise out of Operation Stovewood - the massive National Crime Agency investigation into the sexual exploitation of teenagers in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.
A total of 20 men have now been convicted as a result of Operation Stovewood, which was launched after an independent report found that around 1,400 children were abused by men of predominantly Pakistani heritage over a 16-year period while those in authority failed to act.
There are now believed to have been over 1,500 victims over that period.
Judge Slater praised the victims of the men involved in the latest trial, including one woman who sat in court for the sentencing and said in a statement read to the court: "They took my childhood away."
The judge said: "Nothing I can say to you can restore those childhoods of which you were so cruelly deprived by the actions of these defendants and others."
He added that he was ‘particularly concerned’ to hear that a number of complainants ‘expressed feelings of shame, guilt and self-loathing in relation to what happened to her and by extension to her family’.
He told the victims: "It seems to me the time for such wholly unjustified but understandable self-criticism and soul searching is over."
The judge said the women should instead be praised for the ‘incredible resolve and bravery’ they each showed to bring the men to justice and how they ‘stood up to ensure that what happened to her should never happened to young girls in the future’.
During the latest trial, jurors heard that girls were targeted due their vulnerability and were given alcohol and drugs before some were raped by multiple men.
Violence was sometimes used to ensure they complied, the court was told.
Referring to the defendant who cannot be named for legal reasons, the judge said: "I cannot think of a worse violation of a young girl by those who purported to be her friends."
Another man who cannot be named for legal reasons, who was also found guilty of offences earlier this week, will be sentenced at a later date, as will a seventh defendant, Mohammed Ashan, who pleaded guilty to sex offences at a previous hearing.