Six men convicted of grooming socially isolated girls in Huddersfield

Six men have been convicted of grooming vulnerable girls in Huddersfield and treating them as “objects to be used and abused at will”.

Jurors at Leeds Crown Court (pictured) were told how three socially isolated girls were lured into associating with older men, before being treated as sexual commodities against their wishes.

Prosecutors told how the complainants, who were aged between 12 and 16, were deliberately targeted, and were offered cigarettes, alcohol and drugs in an attempt to lure them into submitting to the men.

On Thursday, following more than 24 hours of deliberation, jurors convicted six men of their roles in abusing the girls between 2005 and 2008.

The trial was the fifth in West Yorkshire Police’s Operation Tendersea investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse in Huddersfield.

Umar Zaman, 31, and Samuel Fikru, 32, were both convicted of two counts of rape, with Banaris Hussain, 36, being convicted of one count of the same offence.

Meanwhile, a 32-year-old man was convicted of five counts of rape, another 32-year-old male was found guilty of a single count of the same offence, and a 38-year-old man was found guilty of attempted rape.

Their names cannot be reported for legal reasons.

A 39-year-old woman was cleared of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, while jurors were unable to reach a verdict on whether a man aged 31 had committed a single charge of rape.

The prosecution said a decision on whether or not to re-try him would be made when those who were convicted are sentenced at Leeds Crown Court on November 1.

Another man, 32-year-old Mohammed Arif, of New Hey Road, Huddersfield, was cleared of a single count of rape.

Opening the case to the jury, prosecutor Richard Wright QC said there was a sense that those in authority “did not do enough to engage with these girls and find out what was happening” to them.

He said that the men who abused the complainants knew they were children but “did not care about it for a moment”, adding: “These men cared only for themselves and viewed these girls as objects to be used and abused at will.

“You will readily understand that these vulnerable youngsters, who were also socially isolated, very rapidly found themselves drawn into a world in which they had little or no control of their lives and were unable to make truly free or informed choices about anything they did with these men.”

Mr Wright said that the girls had been abused and passed between other men for sexual purposes, with threats and violence being used to forced them to comply.

The court heard how, prior to and during the alleged offences, the complainants had been “deliberately avoiding home and people in positions of authority”.

Michael Quinn, the head of the complex casework unit at the Crown Prosecution Service in Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “The men cynically groomed and exploited children for their own sexual gratification, drawing them into a dark and sordid world in which they had little or no control over their lives.

“At the heart of this case are the victims. They have all suffered trauma as a result of their childhood abuse.

“They have all shown immense courage in coming forward to assist the investigation and support the prosecution case.”

Zaman and Hussain, both of William Street, Huddersfield, Fikru, who is in custody, and the three other convicted defendants gave no reaction as they were told the jury’s verdicts.

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