Female lawyers who saw nine men jailed for the rape and violent abuse of two “vulnerable” young girls were subjected to violent verbal abuse themselves outside an English courthouse Wednesday.
The defendants were handed prison sentences ranging between 18 months and 20 years at Bradford Crown Court, where jurors heard they had subjected their victims to “an appalling catalogue of degrading emotional and sexual abuse which … deprived them of their childhood”.
Basharat Khaliq, 38, Saeed Akhtar, 55, Naveed Akhtar, 43, Parvaze Ahmed, 36, Izar Hussain, 32, Zeeshan Ali, 32, Keiran Harris, 28, Fahim Iqbal, 28 and Mohammed Usman, 31, were found guilty of a total of 22 offences including rape and inciting child prostitution, local media reports.
During a seven-week trial, the court heard that the defendants’ sexual abuse of the two victims followed “a pattern which is all too familiar in cases of this kind”, beginning in 2008 when — at the age of 14 — they were sent to live in a children’s home run by Bradford Council.
In victim impact statements, the two girls — who the CPS said “were deliberately targeted because of their vulnerability” — spoke of the devastating impact the abuse had on their lives, including forced adoption of a child and “multiple suicide attempts” after they were plied with drink and drugs, and passed from one man to another like “a toy”.
“I struggle to leave the house due to anxiety which prevents me from living a full life, and have spent my adult life on medication,” one of the victims said, disclosing that “the drug and alcohol misuse has had a large effect on my health, such as abnormal liver function.
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“I showed signs of a promising future and was predicted A*s and wanted to be a lawyer. Because of the abuse I dropped out of school and was in trouble with police,” she told the court.
At sentencing on Wednesday, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC told the men: “The damage and hurt you have caused for your sexual pleasure has been revealed to all, and the lengths some of you went to corrupt and groom a girl are truly appalling, and then threaten and to rape her beyond description.
“[The victims] were relentlessly, by Basharat Khaliq and the other eight of you, sexually abused following grooming and, whether there is or isn’t a connection to the groomers through blatant violence, over a period of years.
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“The jury have seen this case for what it was. Clear, determined and insidious grooming.”
On Thursday morning, the Bradford Telegraph & Argus revealed that family members and supporters of the defendants had “shouted angry abuse from the public gallery” after the guilty verdict was returned on Tuesday.
And, in behaviour described by Judge Durham Hall as “absolutely outrageous”, female lawyers were heckled, called “slags”, and told ‘I hope you get raped’, by several people who had hung around outside the court after the men were locked up.
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