BREAKING LEEDS WEST YORKSHIRE

Three members of a grooming gang who plied their teenage victims with alcohol before humiliating and degrading them with rapes and other sex attacks have been jailed

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Zahid Hassan, Saqib Raheel and Sholan James were convicted after a nine-day trial at Leeds Crown Court in May following more than eight hours of jury deliberations.
Jurors heard an 18-year-old girl was raped by Hassan and his friend ‘Fred’ in 2006. A few years later, a 15-year-old girl was sexually abused by Raheel, James and a third man before being raped by Raheel.
Yesterday, a judge at the same court sentenced Hassan to 21 years in prison, Raheel to 10-and-a-half years and James to six years behind bars.
Hassan, also known as Manny, is currently serving a 18-year prison sentence for sex offences including multiple child rapes and abductions and was described by his barrister as a “broken man” during yesterday’s sentencing hearing.
The trial was the latest in West Yorkshire Police’s Operation Tendersea investigation into non-recent child sexual exploitation in Kirklees.
Jurors in that trial heard one of the victim’s phone numbers was passed around the men’s friends and Fred forced her to perform sex acts on Hassan the following year.
Hassan, 32, formerly of Bland Street, Lockwood, Huddersfield, was convicted of five charges in relation to the two victims – four counts of rape and one count of attempted rape.
Raheel, 34, of Upper High Street, Cradley Heath, West Midlands, was convicted of rape of an underage girl and sexual assault of an underage girl in relation to the second victim.
James, 30, of New House Road, Sheepridge, Huddersfield, was convicted of assault of an underage girl by penetration in relation to the second victim.
Prosecutor Kate Batty told the court one of the victims was taken to a flat and given alcohol until she was “unable to talk, unable to stand” and also unable to fight back against “Fred” and “Manny”.
Ms Batty said the pair were heard laughing as they raped her. She added that the second victim was also vulnerable and isolated in a flat.
Raheel was said to have subjected his victim to “humiliation and degradation” by showing off saying he let “his boys go first” and recorded the abuse.
Ms Batty read victim impact statements from both of the women abused by the trio of men.
The first victim said she suffered with feelings of “fear, stupidity, shame and anger”. She added that she felt “confused” as to why a normal teenage attraction led to something so traumatic.
The victim’s statement added that she became unable to trust men.
She described the shame of being laughed at after being sexually assaulted as “unbearable”.
She continued by saying she kept wondering if the abuse was her fault and whether or not she had been too friendly.
The statement added that despite moving on and finding love, she worries about bringing children into a world where they could be harmed as she was.
She said she felt like a “burden” to her partner and felt more humiliation in the lead up to the trial due to Hassan being able to gain control of her life once again.
Ms Batty added that the second victim suffers from severe anxiety and has struggled with binge-eating as well as suicidal thoughts.
She said she struggles with being in social situations and finds it difficult to keep hold of a job long-term.
Addressing all three defendants, Judge Simon Phillips QC described the grooming as “insidious and persistent”.
He said: “The picture that emerged in this trial, just as it had done in earlier trials, is when the abuse began the complainants were children or young persons and they were vulnerable because of family and other circumstances.”
He added: “Some girls were almost senseless when they returned home. Some girls repeatedly went back knowing and expecting they would be abused with fear of consequences if they did not comply.
“These girls were often targeted because of their extreme vulnerability and perceived naivety.”
Judge Phillips QC added the sentences he imposed were “severe” and intended to be so to deter others from behaving in the same way.
He said: “The courts have to do what they can to protect young girls from abuse.”
Sentencing Hassan to 21 years in prison, to run concurrently with his existing 18-year sentence, Judge Phillips QC said: “You treated your victim with apparent contempt. She was described as being like a rag doll as you took it in turns to use and abuse her in the most vile way possible.”
Raheel was jailed for 10-and-a-half years and James was sentenced to six years in prison.