September 3 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Two men have been convicted of trafficking young girls for sex in Peterborough.
Yasir Ali, 28, of Grange Road, Peterborough and Daaim Ashraf, 19, of Almoners Lane, Peterborough, were convicted of a total of 24 charges at Cambridge Crown Court today (Tuesday).
Ali was convicted of 15 charges comprising: four rapes; seven charges of trafficking for sexual exploitation; two charges of making indecent images of children; engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child and intimidation.
Ashraf was convicted of nine charges comprising: five counts of trafficking for sexual exploitation; sexual assault; sexual activity with a child; engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child and intimidation.
Ali was cleared of a further count of rape from 2008 while a third defendant, James Daly, 25, of Grange Road, Peterborough, was cleared of a single charge of rape.
The jury of seven women and five men had deliberated for 14 hours and 37 minutes before delivering their unanimous verdicts.
During the eight-week trial, the court heard Ali and Ashraf had abused eight girls who they had groomed after meeting them through social media.
Six of the victims, the youngest of who was 13, were abused at a hotel in Peterborough in January and February last year. One of the girls was also raped in an alleyway in Stamford.
A further two victims were identified during the investigation and disclosed to having been raped in cars at Ferry Meadows in 2008 and 2010.
The investigation was part of Operation Erle – a joint proactive investigation between Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Peterborough City Council’s Children’s Services.
The girls were traced after being identified as being at risk of being exploited through an information trawl by police and Peterborough City Council in January last year.
On the day the investigation was launched, police also received a referral from Rutland Social Care after a girl had disclosed being raped at a Peterborough hotel.
That led detectives to the Day’s Inn hotel at Haddon. CCTV was seized and further victims were subsequently traced along with the offenders.
The case follows a successful prosecution at the Old Bailey earlier this year where five men and teenage boys were convicted of a catalogue of sexual offences against underage girls. Four were jailed for a total of 54 years.
Ali and Ashraf will be sentenced at a later date. Two other men who had been charged in connection with the offences were acquitted halfway through the trial.
Detective Superintendent Gary Ridgway said: “Today’s convictions are part of the ongoing joint inquiry by Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Peterborough City Council’s Children’s social care to safeguard young people and bring offenders to justice.
“As with the previous case held at the Old Bailey, this investigation was entirely victim-led.
“We worked closely with colleagues at Peterborough, Rutland and Lincolnshire Children’s Services to win the trust of these young girls so they felt safe enough to tell us what they had been through.
“The girls were targeted due to their vulnerability and groomed via social media. They were made to feel special.
“These men preyed on their innocence and took them to hotels where they were plied with alcohol then sexually abused.
“They have each been through horrific ordeals and have shown great bravery in giving evidence against their abusers at court.
“It will no doubt take many years for them to rebuild their lives, but hopefully the knowledge that these men have been brought to justice will be an important step forward for them.
“Our priority has always been, and remains, to protect young people. We will continue to work with the city council and other partner agencies to keep young people safe from harm.”