AN ALLEGED child groomer told police he had a “relationship” with a complainant but had never had sex with her, a court was told.
Azad Akram Raja told police that he had first met the girl, who we are referring to as Girl A, at a Christmas party in 2003 — but he changed his answer after police told him they had seen them together ten months earlier.
Raja (37), of Adney Street, Sheffield, is on trial at Sheffield Crown Court accused of three counts of rape and two counts of indecent assault against the woman between April 2001 and April 2004.
Yasir Iqbal Hussain (37), of Norborough Road, Tinsley, and Faisel Hussain (33), of Lovetot Road, Kimberworth, are on trial alongside him accused of five child sexual exploitation offences.
The case involves the alleged sexual abuse of two schoolgirls in Rotherham and Meadowhall in the early 2000s when they could have been as young as 13 and the defendants were aged between 15 and 20.
Raja told police in November 2017, in a statement which was read to the jury today (Monday), that he had known Girl A but had first met her in December 2003, when he says she was 16.
“We were in a relationship for around three months, but we were more like friends,” he said.
“We did not have sex or any type of sexual relationship.”
Raja said they had done nothing more than kissing or hugging.
He said he had met Girl A’s parents numerous times while they were dating.
Raja said he and Girl A had become friends on Facebook in 2016 and she had liked a picture of him at Mecca.
He said he had worked in Templeborough between 2002 and 2004 and he knew Girl A while he had worked there.
“I remember it was at Christmas time in 2003,” he said.
“I met [Girl A] at [a friend’s] address while attending a Christmas party there.
“She was 16-years-old whilst at that party.”
Raja said they had still been dating in 2004 and he had given her a 17th birthday card.
Prosecutor Ms Jayne Beckett said that before Raja’s third interview, police told him he had been stopped and searched while he was in a car with Girl A on February 6, 2003 — ten months before he said he had first met her.
Raja said in his third police interview: “I have realised I miscalculated when I first met her by one year.
“I knew I met her at Christmas time when I worked in Templeborough, except it must have been 2002, not 2003.
“It would have assisted me if the police had told me about the stop and search.
“I ask you to take into account that this happened over a decade ago.
“I wish to clarify that [Girl A] definitely told me she was 16.”
The defendants have been charged as part of the National Crime Agency's investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
The trial continues.