After two months of hearing the evidence, the jury in the Rotherham abuse trial at Sheffield Crown Court is now considering its verdicts for those accused of participating in an alleged Rotherham child grooming ring.
Since December the jury has heard allegations of historic child abuse against five men and two women involving 12 girls from the Rotherham area. The alleged victims, all now adult women, were said to have been beaten, raped, shared between abusers, drugged and used as prostitutes between 1987 and 2003.
Yesterday Judge Sarah Wright sent the jury out to consider their verdicts, telling them to aim for unanimous verdicts.
At the outset of the trial, prosecuting barrister Michelle Colborne QC told the court it would hear from women who as teenage girls were “targeted, sexualised and in some instances subjected to acts of a degrading and violent nature”, reports the Sheffield Telegraph.
Some of the girls — a number of which were said to have become pregnant during the abuse — were living in children’s homes. In one case the court heard that “seemingly no-one was interested in whether she returned in a bloodied state”.
Over the course of the trial the evidence heard created a shocking picture of child abuse in Rotherham, including accusations of institutional involvement.
It was alleged that a policeman and a councillor played their part in a deal for one of the grooming gang defendants, Arshid Hussain, to hand over a missing teenage girl in exchange for not facing prosecution. Another defendant, Basharat Hussain, was said to pay a corrupt policeman in the Criminal Investigation Department “so he wouldn’t get busted”.
A further defendant, Sajid Bostan, was even a police cadet with ambitions to join the force at the time of his alleged involvement in the child sexual exploitation offences.
Furthermore, evidence given to South Yorkshire Police in the form of a victim’s diary “filled with dates, times, everything that happened” was said to have been lost.
In August last year, the Jay Report found that 1,400 children had been groomed, trafficked and raped by Asian men in the town but police had failed to intervene due to fears of appearing racist.
The jury also heard evidence that a 12-year-old girl was forced into sex acts with a group of men in a car after she was lifted from a children’s home, while another was called a “white bitch and trash” after being made to have oral sex.
One of the female defendants, children’s charity founder Karen MacGregor, was accused by two complainants of “pimping girls from children’s homes” to Asian men for sex.
The jury was told that some early effort had been made by victims to bring matters to light, but they were met by a wall of silence and indifference from police, children’s home staff and, in one case, even the mother of one of the alleged victims.
It was even said that staff at Rotherham Council threatened to take away the children of one of the 12 alleged victims, for speaking out about child sexual exploitation as an adult.
Arshid Hussain, Basharat Hussain, Karen MacGregor, Qurban Ali, Sajid Bostan, Majid Bostan, and Shelley Davies have all denied their part in historic child sexual exploitation crimes relating to a Rotherham grooming gang.