THE senior officer in the team which prosecuted three men for indecently assaulting a young girl in a Rotherham graveyard and car park has praised their victim for her bravery in coming forward.
Paul Williamson, senior investigating officer of the Operation Stovewood team, which is investigating child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, said the conviction and jailing of Riaz Makhmood (39), Sajid Ali (38) and Zaheer Iqbal (39) today for 15 offences should encourage others to come forward.
“This is the first trial under Operation Stovewood and we have only been able to get to this point as a result of the bravery of the victim to come forward and tell her story,” he said.
“Our investigations are complex in nature and scale and the commitment of officers — building trust and relationships with victims — should not be underestimated.
“It has been challenging to get to this point, but I have no doubt today’s conviction will give victims the confidence that they will be listened to, and that the individuals who exploited them in the worst imaginable way are finally held accountable for their actions.
“Working with South Yorkshire Police, Rotherham Borough Council and the many other partners we are engaged with, we will not stop in our endeavors to get justice for the victims and survivors who have shown great courage and dignity in coming forward.”
Sheffield Crown Court heard the victim who was 12 and 13 at the time of the abuse, which took place in 1994 and 1995.
All three were arrested in July 2016 after the victim, who is now aged 35, came forward to police.
She explained how she and friends would be given alcohol and sexually assaulted in car parks or behind shops in Masbrough.
South Yorkshire Police passed the information to the National Crime Agency (NCA) for further investigation under Operation Stovewood.
Makhmood was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison and Ali and Iqbal were given seven-and-a-half years each.
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