A MAN who was allegedly part of a grooming gang has told a jury he has never been friends with his co-defendants.
Ishtiaq Khaliq gave evidence today at Sheffield Crown Court where he is one of eight men on trial for child sex abuse offences.
The 33-year-old is accused of sexually abusing three girls aged under 16.
Khaliq denies the offences and claims he does not know the complainants and that personal information they know about him they must have been obtained from Facebook or other people.
Khaliq said when he was 19 to 20, in 2003-2004, he did not know any of his co-defendants apart from Waleed Ali.
He said he knew Ali from the Rotherham area as a boxer but did not associate with him and knew of Masoued Malik because they went to the same school and sometimes played football together but did not associate with him either.
He denied knowing any of the five other defendants at that time.
Khaliq’s barrister, Ms Elaine Stapleton, asked her client what he was like around the time the offences are alleged to have taken place.
The father-of-one said he had not completed his studies at Thomas Rotherham College because he was “young and naive”.
Asked if he had ever been in trouble with the police, he replied: “Yes, when I was around 16”, and added: “I had a fight, that's all it was really a stupid fight.”
Khaliq said he had been convicted over this and for other offences of violence, theft, deceptions and perverting the course of justice, but had no convictions of violence towards women.
The 33-year-old said a robbery he was convicted for in 2003 was “something to do with somebody owing me money and a mobile phone”.
Ms Stapleton said Khaliq had been was sentenced in 2004 to 42 months in prison.
Khaliq said that when he was released it was a turning point in his life and he had not reoffended due to the support of his current partner, with whom he had been since he was 17.
But in 2012 he received a community order for common assault and threatening behaviour.
Khaliq said his family had not been happy that he started a relationship with an English woman so he left home at 17 and slept rough for a period before moving into his own place.
Ms Stapleton asked: “Around this time, in 1999-2001, when you were 16 to 18, did you ever hang around Clifton Park or Boots alleyway and talk to 13- to 14-year-old girls?”
Khaliq replied: “No”.
He said he had not been sexually active before he met his girlfriend and had only been interested in playing football and associating with friends.
Asked if he had ever been unfaithful to his partner, he said: “No. I left my family for her.”
All eight men deny the charges against them.
The trial continues.
Child sex abuse trial: the defendants and charges