Op Stovewood: six men jailed for 101 years for sexually abusing girls as young as 13

Published Friday, 16th November 2018
Sheffield law courts
Sheffield law courts

Rotherham’s Council Leader has welcomed the news that six men have been jailed for 101 years after being convicted of raping and sexually assaulting young girls in Rotherham between 1998 and 2000.

Cllr Chris Read said: “I hope that the sentences handed out today give further confidence to victims and survivors that justice will be done and we will continue to work in partnership with both the NCA, South Yorkshire Police and the CPS to ensure people are properly dealt with for the terrible ordeals they have caused.

“The perpetrators of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham must face the consequences of their actions and we will continue to work hard across the partnership to ensure that they do.”

Mohammed Imran Ali Akhtar, Nabeel Kurshid, Iqlaq Yousaf and Tanweer Ali, all friends from Rotherham, were found guilty last month, alongside Salah Ahmed El-Hakam, Asif Ali and ‘X’, a man who cannot be named for legal reasons, following an eight week trial at Sheffield Crown Court.

The offences relate to the abuse of five girls, one as young as 13, who were passed around to be sexually abused by multiple offenders.

Mohammed Imran Ali Akhtar was the ‘ringleader’ and he took the lead in befriending the girls before introducing them to his friends. They were plied with drugs and alcohol until they couldn’t remember what was going on and in some instances, were threatened with violence or being transported and abandoned in an unfamiliar location if they didn’t comply with the sexual demands.

The men behaved as if the girls were their property and even after their arrests many years later, they showed no remorse for their actions.

However, after seeing other men convicted and jailed for similar offences, Mohammed Imran Ali Akhtar’s confident demeanor began to crack. He approached one of the victims and asked “have the cops got in touch with you”. He tried to minimise what had happened by saying “that time was a different time .. like when we used to chill and we used to want the girls to do something with other guys … there might have been times where some boys might have forced you to do something”.

Sentencing him to serve 23 years behind bars, HHJ Wright said he “targeted and groomed” the girls “supplying them with alcohol and drugs”.

The other five men , Nabeel Kurshid, Iqlaq Yousaf, Tanweer Ali, Salah Ahmed El-Hakam and Asif Ali were sentenced to 19 years, 20 years, 14 years, 15 years, and 10 years respectively.

A seventh man, known as ‘X’, will be sentenced at a later date.

Operation Stovewood Senior Investigating Officer, Paul Williamson said:

“The men who have been sentenced today preyed on vulnerable young girls for their own satisfaction. They used violence and intimidation and believed they were untouchable by law enforcement. Today, as they begin serving their sentences, I want to reassure the victims and survivors across Rotherham that the NCA and our partners are committed to bringing child sexual offenders to justice.

“As we see yet more men jailed for sexually abusing girls in Rotherham, I would like to pay tribute to our victims and survivors who have placed their trust in us to support them through this prosecution, and for their courage in giving evidence in what must have been a hugely challenging and emotional experience for them all.

“I also want to thank partners for their support in this harrowing investigation– particularly the Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ISVAs) and the Crown Prosecution Service.

“Working with South Yorkshire Police, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and the many other partners we are engaged with, we will not stop in our endeavors to ensure those who exploited vulnerable young people in the worst imaginable way will be finally held accountable for their crimes. Mike Duffy, from the CPS, said:

“These men deliberately preyed on young, vulnerable teenagers, grooming and exploiting them.

“They denied the abuse but evidence put forward by the CPS, including the victim’s accounts of the incidents, resulted in the jury finding them guilty.

“I would like to thank the victims who came forward and bravely supported this prosecution.”

There are currently 22 separate investigations under the Stovewood umbrella, with 153 suspects identified and 300 complainants engaging with officers. 24 suspects have been charged and 15 have been arrested (or attended a police station voluntarily) and bailed or released under investigation.

A dedicated helpline has been set up for victims and survivors who want to get in contact with Op Stovewood officers. The number – 01925 266367 – is accessible 24/7 and gives the opportunity for people to seek advice and guidance on coming forward and talking about what has happened to them.

Operation Stovewood: Seven men guilty of 24 child sexual abuse offences against teenage girls