Rotherham grooming gang 'ringleader' facing more jail time after admitting raping 13-year-old girl
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42-year-old Mohammed Imran Ali Akhtar has spent the last five years behind bars, after receiving a 23-year sentence in 2018 when a jury at Sheffield Crown Court found him guilty of a string of sex offences including rape; indecent assault; procuring a girl under 21 to have unlawful sexual intercourse with another; aiding and abetting rape and sexual assault.
During a brief hearing held at the same court today (Tuesday, October 17, 2023), Akhtar pleaded guilty to two counts of rape and two counts of indecent assault, after telling Judge Peter Kelson KC he is 'already a convicted rapist'.
Akhtar committed the offences between August 2001 and July 2002, and involved a victim who was as young as 13-years-old.
Describing the circumstances surrounding Akhtar's abhorrent crimes, a spokesperson for the National Crime Agency said: "On multiple occasions during this period, Akhtar picked the victim up in his car and drove her to different locations before raping her.
"The defendant groomed the young victim, providing her with alcohol and drugs each time they met.
"At the time, the victim was led to believe she was in a relationship with Akhtar, who would threaten to drive her to unknown locations and leave her stranded if she did not comply with his demands for sex.
"On one occasion, when she did refuse to engage in sexual activity, she recalled having to walk for hours after she was kicked out of the car by Akhtar in the early hours of the morning."
Both the investigation which led to today's conviction, and the separate sub-operation resulting in Akhtar's 2018 lengthy sentence, form part of the NCA's Operation Stovewood, a major investigation into child sexual abuse and exploitation which took place in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, between 1997 and 2013.
Speaking after Akhtar, formerly of Godstone Road, Rotherham, entered his guilty pleas, Operation Stovewood Senior Investigating Officer, Philip Marshall, said: “I would like to pay tribute to the victim in this case, who had the bravery to come forward and tell her story which was key to this conviction.
“While supporting victims like her remain our priority, we remain determined to do all we can to identify and bring offenders to justice, and to continue to work in partnership with all services in South Yorkshire.”
Zoe Becker, Legal Manager for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), added: “Mohammed Imran Ali Akhtar targeted the young victim and used drugs and alcohol to groom her for sex.
“The lifelong physical and emotional trauma caused to victims by men like Akhtar cannot be understated.
“We would like to thank the victim in this case for coming forward and reporting this devastating crime. I hope this conviction sends a clear message that the CPS, working alongside the NCA, will continue to relentlessly pursue justice and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, whenever that abuse took place.
“Last year, to deal with some of the more complex and challenging child sexual abuse cases, we established our dedicated Organised Child Sexual Abuse Unit to share specialist understanding, build strong cases and increase the amount of successful prosecutions.
“I encourage any victims of child sexual abuse and sexual violence to report the crimes committed against them to the police. You are not alone and there is always help available.”
Akhtar is now due to be sentenced for his latest conviction on December 18, 2023.
Grooming gang 'ringleader' handed 23-year sentence following 2018 trial
At the conclusion of the 2018 trial, detectives from South Yorkshire Police described Akhtar as the 'ringleader' of a gang of six men convicted for multiple child sex offences.
Akhtar raped one girl in the back of a car, and took another to meet taxi driver.
During the course of the trial, the jury heard how the group targeted vulnerable Rotherham school girls, plying them with alcohol and drugs, before sexually abusing them.
One of the abuse survivors said she had been sexually abused by 100 men by the age of 16, while another was forced to have an abortion at the age of 14 after being gang raped in a forest.
Operation Stovewood is the single largest law enforcement investigation into non-familial child sexual abuse in the UK.
So far more than 200 people have been arrested and 24 convictions secured, with those convicted handed jail sentences totalling more than 250 years.