A GANG of five men who sexually abused and exploited eight vulnerable schoolgirls have been jailed for a combined total of 63 years.
Abid Saddiq (38), of HMP Doncaster; Sharaz Hussain (35), of Fitzwilliam Road, Eastwood; Aftab Hussain (40), of HMP Doncaster; Masaued Malik (35), of HMP Doncaster; and another man (Defendant 6) — who cannot be named for legal reasons — received sentences of between four and 24 years.
They were jailed at Sheffield Crown Court today (Friday) after being convicted on Wednesday following a six-week trial in relation to 20 offences committed in several locations including Clifton Park and an alleyway near Boots on Howard Street between 1998 and 2002.
The girls were deliberately targeted for their vulnerability and for the sole purpose of becoming sexual objects for the men.
Saddiq, who received 20 years for eight offences, including two rapes, was described by Judge Michael Slater as a "cunning and determined sexual predator".
Malik — jailed for 15 years in 2016 for three child sexual offences — will have to spend another five years behind bars.
Aftab Hussain, who was convicted in November of two rapes, will serve the longest stretch behind bars at 24 years.
The sentences were as follows:
Abid Saddiq: 20 years
Masaued Malik: five years (consecutive to current 15-year sentence)
Aftab Hussain: 24 years
Sharaz Hussain: four years
Defendant 6: ten years
During sentencing, Mr Slater said that during the late 90s and early 00s it had become "common practice for significant numbers of Asian males and local teenage girls to meet up, either in the day or at night, in various locations in and around Rotherham town centre.
"The result of these liaisons was that, more often than not, casual perfunctory sex would take place either there and then or in more secluded locations such as private properties," he said.
Mr Slater said the girls, who were under 16, were threatened with violence if they weren't willing to comply with the men's demands.
"Each one of them has suffered severe physical and emotional trauma and continues to do so," he said.
Mr Slater criticised the authorities who were working in the borough at the time of the offending.
He said: “I’m quite satisfied that the relevant authorities were well aware of this lamentable state of affairs."
Mr Slater said that the council were either at best “totally ineffective” or at worst “wholly indifferent”.
The men were prosecuted by the National Crime Agency as part of the multi-million pound Operation Stovewood investigation, which has been looking into allegations of non-familial child sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.
Mohammed Ashan (35), of HMP Wymott, pleaded guilty at the beginning of the six-week trial to three counts of indecent assault. He will be sentenced at a later date.
Another defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted on Wednesday of two counts of indecent assault and will also be sentenced at a later date.
An NSPCC spokesperson said: "These men were ruthless in their grooming and sexual abuse of vulnerable teenagers, and it is truly shocking that these appalling offences could represent just a fraction of the number of young people affected by sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
“The work done by the National Crime Agency through Operation Stovewood is vital to ending this horrific abuse, and bringing these evil men to justice. We encourage anyone who has experienced this kind of abuse to come forward and share their story, safe in the knowledge they will not be judged, the abuse was not their fault, and their courage can help ensure justice is done."
Children affected by sexual abuse can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or go to www.childline.org.uk
Adults with concerns about a young person’s wellbeing or who experienced sexual abuse in the past can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 8005000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org