By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 5:03 PM on 7th January 2011
Two ‘sexual predators’ who subjected a series of vulnerable girls to rapes and sexual assaults described by a judge as a ‘reign of terror’ were given indefinite prison sentences today.
Abid Mohammed Saddique, 27, was jailed for a minimum of 11 years at Nottingham Crown Court.
Mohammed Romaan Liaqat, 28, was told he must serve at least eight years before he is considered for release.
Sentenced: Abid Mohammed Saddique, 27, left, was jailed for a minimum of 11 years. Mohammed Romaan Liaqat, 28, was told he must serve at least eight years
The men were sentenced as dozens of police lined the street outside the court in front of a protest by the right-wing EDL.
More officers were stationed in the court building.
It comes after a senior detective accused police and social services of allowing hundreds of young white girls to be exploited by Asian men over fears of being branded racist if they spoke out.
Detective Chief Inspector Alan Edwards, of West Mercia Poice, said: ‘These girls are being passed around and used as meat.’
Agencies have identified a long-term pattern of offending by gangs of men, predominantly from the British Pakistani community, who have befriended and abused hundreds of vulnerable girls aged 11 to 16.
Experts claim the statistics represent a mere fraction of a ‘tidal wave’ of offending in counties across the Midlands and the north of England which has been going on for more than a decade.
In the past three years, 14 court prosecutions have taken place involving the on-street grooming of girls aged 11 to 16 by groups of men.
The figure is a startling rise from the total of three such prosecutions since 1997.
Since 1996 a similar pattern of collective abuse has emerged involving hundreds of girls aged 11 to 16 in Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Rotherham, Derby, Keighley, Skipton, Blackpool, Oldham, Blackburn, Rochdale, Preston and Burnley.
In this latest case, the men were the prime movers in a group of men who befriended girls aged from 12 to 18 in the Derby area and groomed them for sex.
Saddique and Liaqat – both married with children – were said to be the leaders of the Derby gang.
Today Judge Philip Head told Saddique: ‘Your crimes can only be described as evil,’ adding he was an ‘evil, manipulative and controlling’ character who was a continuing danger to young girls.
The judge said: ‘You are in the truest sense a sexual predator with a voracious sexual appetite that you gratified as frequently as possible in a variety of ways.’
He said the pair’s attitude was ‘sex at any price’ as they and others embarked on a ‘reign of terror on girls in Derby’.
At the opening of the first trial, held at Nottingham Crown Court, prosecutor Yvonne Coen QC said: ‘They preyed on young girls who were vulnerable, either because of their age and because of their own personal circumstances.
‘They exploited these girls either for their own sexual satisfaction or for their friends’.’
Saddique, of Northumberland Street, Normanton, Derby, was convicted of four counts of rape as well as two counts of false imprisonment, two of sexual assault, three charges of sexual activity with a child, perverting the course of justice and aiding and abetting rape.
Liaqat, of Briar Lea Close, Sinfin, Derby, was found guilty of one count of rape, two of sexual assault, aiding and abetting rape, affray, and four counts of sexual activity with a child.
Both pleaded guilty to causing a person under 18 to be involved in pornography and they are due to be sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court today.
Thirteen men were charged in relation to Operation Retriever and 11 stood trial for a string of charges – not all sexual – relating to the case, which involved 26 victims, one as young as 12.
Out of the original 13, a total of nine stand convicted.
Revealed: How gang bewitched then abused young girls
Police were shocked by the extent of the abuse the gang of ‘predatory sex offenders’ carried out as they systematically raped and abused young girls.
By befriending the youngsters, giving them alcohol and inviting them to parties where they were often used for sex, the gang used a ‘classical grooming process’ to entice and bewitch the youngsters, a senior police officer said.
The gang managed to particularly seek out a majority of youngsters who had troubled personal and family backgrounds, meaning they were vulnerable and in no position to stand up to the men who wanted them simply for sexual gratification.
Of the 26 victims, the youngest of which was 12 and the eldest 18, a serious case review was carried out into two who were in local authority care at the time of the abuse.
Multi-agency reviews were also carried out into more than 20 of the other victims involved.
But Derbyshire Police said the girls were from a variety of backgrounds and urged all parents to be aware of the risks of sexual exploitation.
During the trial, the court heard a harrowing account from one of the girls about a time she was raped in June 2008, aged just 16.
She knew one of the men who rang her and asked her to meet up, and after being taken to a petrol station to buy alcohol, she was driven to an isolated spot where she was raped.
Describing the ordeal, she said: ‘It felt like it lasted for hours but it didn’t, I know that it didn’t. While I was lying there, he said ‘Do you like it, do you like it?’. And I said ‘Yes’.
‘I tried to do everything I could to stop it so at that stage I just said ‘Yes’.
‘I just thought if I tell him what he wants to hear, it will be done quicker.’
Prosecutor Yvonne Coen QC told the court the ‘young and impressionable’ girls were used as sex objects either for members of the gang or for a variety of their friends.
She said: ‘The reason for the main defendants’ relentless pursuit of the girls in this way was quite simple. They wanted sex, whether the girls wanted sex or not.’
After finding themselves in situations where they felt very uneasy, it seemed many of the victims finally came to a point where they wanted to change their circumstances, Detective Superintendent Debbie Platt, of Derbyshire Police, said.
‘The reason for the main defendants’ relentless pursuit of the girls in this way was quite simple. They wanted sex, whether the girls wanted sex or not’
Prosecutor Yvonne Coen QC
She worked closely on the investigation, and said: ‘My personal belief is that the girls had had enough; they wanted to be listened to, they wanted to be believed and they wanted the abuse to stop.
‘I think that’s a critical part, they knew the offenders were under arrest and that’s when they’ve decided to speak to the agencies and particularly the police.’
As one victim came forward, officers were led to another, then another, followed by many more, she said.
She praised the courage of the girls, who had to sit through the court case and reveal personal details of their lives to strangers in a courtroom, and added: ‘The girls have been incredibly brave.
‘Not just by putting their trust in the police officers who took that initial statement from them, but they’ve seen this through.
‘It’s been an 18-month process for most of these victims and they’ve been incredibly brave sticking with the prosecution. They’ve given evidence in a court – some of that’s been quite traumatic, as you can imagine. We’re talking about serious sexual offences and rape – and we are incredibly proud of these girls.’
A report published after the gang was convicted said there were ‘missed opportunities’ by agencies to help the girls.
The review’s executive summary said that although it was difficult to know whether the sexual exploitation could have been predicted for the two girls in care, their background meant it was predictable they would become vulnerable adolescents at risk of abuse.
‘Had there been earlier, concerted intervention in their lives to address their unmet needs, it is likely that they would have been less vulnerable as adolescents and therefore less likely to be abused,’ it said.
‘These conclusions are mirrored in the findings from the multi-agency reviews.
‘There were missed opportunities to assess significant concerns in relation to the other young women and comprehensive assessments were not completed.
‘When they were completed, the quality of assessments was frequently poor, with little involvement of the young person and their family, and all the relevant agencies.’