Five men sexually exploited the “profound vulnerability” of a “damaged” 15-year-old girl inRochdale, it can be reported today.
The victim, now aged 20, gave evidence against the defendants in two trials.
Many of her abusers plied the troubled teenager with vodka and cannabis before committing their offences, which took place in 2008 and 2009, Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard.
The majority of the defendants were first arrested last year after the grim portrayal of a largely Pakistani-heritage child sex ring preying on white girls in the town emerged into the public domain in a separate trial at Liverpool Crown Court.
But one of her abusers, Congolese refugee Freddie Kendakumana, was arrested and interviewed by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) in December 2008 after the girl – also white – complained to police that he had raped her the month before.
The girl was told at the time by an interviewing male officer that it was important not to have any future dealings with Kendakumana while the investigation continued but she later confessed she had bumped into him at a flat. Soon after, she went on to have consensual sex with his friend when still aged 15, although that man knew she was under-age.
In a later interview, she explained: “I spoke to the police about it. The police said don’t go back there. If you go back up there, we don’t have a case, so I said I won’t.
“I went on to see Freddie in a flat. I didn’t really speak to him, I had a drink and then came home.”
Kendakamuna, 27, was finally charged, along with his co-defendants, in October 2012 – nearly four years after the girl made the initial rape complaints as several men went on to abuse her in the intervening period.
By that time the girl had undergone numerous video-recorded police interviews from the end of 2008 to October 2011, totalling more than 23 hours.
The victim was first prompted to go to the police on the advice of a health support worker when she disclosed that Kendakumana was sexually forcing himself on her.
But social care and health professionals dealing with the youngster failed to pass on her other confessions in 2008 and 2009 that she was having consensual sexual contact with a string of older men whom she labelled “boyfriends”.
Reporting restrictions were lifted on both proceedings by Judge Jonathan Foster QC at today’s conclusion of the second trial.
Last month in the first trial, Kendakumana, of Illminster, Rochdale, was convicted of rape and sexual activity with a child. He was cleared of a second count of rape.
Two other men, Mohammed Rafiq Abubaker, 32, of Freehold, Rochdale, and takeaway worker Roheez Khan, 27, of Ashfield Road, Rochdale, were found guilty of sexual activity with a child. Khan was also convicted of witness intimidation.
A fourth man, Chola Chansa, 33, of Illminster, Rochdale, pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a child just before the first trial started.
In the second trial, taxi driver Abdul Huk, 37, of Ouldfield Close, Rochdale, was found guilty yesterday of sexual activity with a child.
All five men will be sentenced on December 20.
Today the jury failed to reach a verdict on Mohammed Ali, 28, of Rochdale, on an allegation of sexual activity with a child.
The jury in the first trial also failed to reach a verdict on the same allegation against Mr Ali and, as a consequence, the Crown decided not to proceed with a third trial and has asked for the matter to lie on file.
Asrar Haider, 39, of Rochdale, was cleared by the second jury of sexual activity and inciting sexual activity with a child, while another defendant, Anjam Masood, 31, from Rochdale, was cleared of sexual activity and inciting sexual activity with a child on the direction of the judge after the prosecution said it was no longer offering evidence against him.
Charges were also dropped before the first trial against a 34-year-old man who had been accused of engaging in sexual activity with the girl in a car when she was as young as 12 or 13.
In May last year, nine men were jailed for the systematic grooming and sexual abuse of five white girls – aged between 13 and 15 – in Heywood and Rochdale.
The trial at Liverpool Crown Court resulted in a national debate over the role of gangs of largely Pakistani-heritage men in grooming white girls.
A subsequent report from child safeguarding chiefs ruled that social workers, police and prosecutors had missed opportunities to stop the exploitation in Heywood and Rochdale.
The first victim, who was 15 when the abuse began, told police what had been happening in August 2008, but her complaint was not taken seriously and she continued to be abused by the gang until December 2008 when she fell pregnant and moved away.
In July 2009, a CPS lawyer compounded the police failure to take her seriously and made the decision not to charge the two gang members she was accusing because he did not think a jury would find her “credible”.
Social workers in Rochdale were criticised for apparently writing off underage girls who were deemed to be “making their own choices” in engaging in consensual sex.
Although the girl in the latest court proceedings, who is also white, was being abused at about the same time, she had no known links with any of the defendants who were jailed at Liverpool Crown Court.
The convicted defendants in the Manchester trials also came from a range of nationalities – Kendakumana and Chansa are from Congo, Abubaker is a Kurd, while Huk and Khan are believed to be of Pakistani heritage.
Several knew each other but it was not the prosecution case that they all acted in an organised manner.
In March, Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood said GMP had identified 42 potential victims of child sexual exploitation in the Rochdale area and said they were working closely with six of them to bring more people to justice.
Opening the case against all the defendants, prosecutor Neil Usher said: “It is the Prosecution’s case that leading the chaotic life that she had for some time by the age of 15, she was vulnerable to being groomed and exploited by those who correctly perceived she would be easy to flatter and impress with free and plentiful drink, cannabis and just as importantly, a level of attention and affection that she craved and felt she had lacked in her difficult early life.
“She repeatedly and regularly returned to a number of older men all of whom sexually exploited her and some of whom physically abused her, despite her being advised and supported by health care and social workers.
“The risk-taking and potentially harming positions she regularly put herself in was an indication of the extent of her profound vulnerablily and emotional immaturity.”
In 2008 the girl was a troubled teenager who had been taken into care by Social Services at an early age following a chaotic upbringing by her drug addicted parents, he said.
She was later returned to her mother after a stint in foster care but began drinking alcohol, taking crack cocaine and sniffing lighter fluid from the ages of 11 and 12.
The girl had contact with a number of agencies including Pennine Care Foundation Trust’s Crisis Intervention Team which deals with sexual health and Early Break, an organisation which focuses on substance misuse problems.
The prosecutor said she would tell those agency support workers and her social workers from Rochdale Council about the lifestyle she was leading.
She would tell them that she regularly went to addresses with older men and engaged in sexual activity with them.
She claimed they would give her copious amounts of alcohol, sometimes drugs. and largely would have consensual sex with them.
The court heard that the girl realised herself just before her 16th birthday that her torrid lifestyle had to end and she later cut her ties with older men and enrolled at college.