Clockwise from top left: Nabeel Kurshid, Mohammed Akhtar, Asif Ali, Salah El-Hakam, Tanweer Hussain Ali, Iqlak Yousaf
Money-Advice-Trust

SEVEN men have been found guilty for grooming and exploiting young girls over a period of seven years in Rotherham.  The gang were convicted of offences including rape and indecent assault.

During the trial, the Sheffield Crown Court heard how the men targeted and exploited the teenagers before subjecting them to acts of a “degrading and violent nature”.

One underage victim said she was sexually abused by “at least 100 Asian men” before the age of 16. Another victim said she was bitten and raped by two of the men in Sherwood Forest while “high as a kite” on drugs.

Mohammed Imran Ali Akhtar, 37, Asif Ali, 33, Tanweer Ali, 37, Salah Ahmed El-Hakam, 39, Nabeel Kurshid, 35, Iqlak Yousaf, 34, and a seventh man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were convicted after the trial that lasted for more than eight weeks.

Ajmal Rafiq, 39, was found not guilty of one count of false imprisonment and one count of indecent assault.

All the men are of British Pakistani heritage and they are due to be sentenced on 16 November.

Prosecutor Michelle Colborne QC said the girls had been “lured by the excitement of friendship with older Asian youths” but were then “targeted, sexualised and in some instances subjected to acts of a degrading and violent nature”.

She said: “None of them had the maturity to understand that they were being groomed and exploited, often believing that sex of some kind was a necessary price for friendship.”

The men reportedly used alcohol, drugs, threats and violence to control the girls.

As per one girl’s account, Ali Akhtar regularly threatened to dump her in remote locations if she did not have sex with him and his friends. On one occasion he is believed to have abandoned her by the side of a motorway. She was also passed on to older Asian taxi drivers who would then abuse her.

Another spoke of how Tanweer Ali raped her in the back of a car and then told her: “It’s better you just get it over and done with and then you can go back home”.

The convictions are the latest to come out of Operation Stovewood, an investigation by the National Crime Agency into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, which has identified more than 1,500 victims.