On 27 November 2014, seven men were convicted of a series of serious sexual offences committed against vulnerable schoolgirls. On 28 November 2014, the men were sentenced.
Well presently, details are a little scant, however it seems that 13 men – some of whom were members of a drug gang – have been convicted of serious sexual offences against children:
The 13 men all of Somali origin, most of whom are in their early 20s, were divided into two trials, and were convicted as follows:
The first trial (six defendants):
- rape (SOA 2003 s.1)
- paying a child for sex (SOA 2003 s.47), and
- arranging or facilitating payments for the sexual offences of a child (this appears to be an offence of “arranging or facilitating child prostitution or pornography”, SOA 2003 s.50).
The second trial (seven defendants):
- rape (SOA 2003 s.1),
- causing or inciting child prostitution (SOA 2003 s.48),
- sexual acts with children (this appears to be an offence of “sexual activity with a child”, SOA 2003 s.9), and
- trafficking (SOA 2003 s.59A).
The facts are scant but The Guardian’s report states:
- The victims, some of whom were in local authority care, were groomed and passed around by their abusers – often for money.
- One of the girls was raped at the age of 13 on the same night by three different men.
- Another girl was sexually exploited after a local authority outside Bristol set her up alone in a flat at the age of 16 in a deprived inner-city neighbourhood although she had been described as having the emotional development of a three-year-old. Within hours of arriving, she was spotted by drug dealers who set up a base in her new home and forced her to work as a prostitute. The abuse continued for months even after she told care workers about what was happening; the girl’s 14-year-old sister was subsequently raped during a visit.
Regrettably, we do not know any more details, for example, the nature of trafficking (in the UK or to the UK), the size of the “sex ring”, the period over which the offences were committed, the number of complainants in the case, the amount of profit made by the men from the offences, and whether or not the police are looking for other men who they believe to be involved.
The BBC reported the sentences imposed were as follows:
- Said Zakaria, 22 – 11 years for rape and sexual activity with a child
- Mohamed Jomale, 24 – 10 years for rape and sexual activity with a child
- Jusuf Abdirizak, 20 – seven-and-a-half years for rape
- Sakariah Sheik, 21 – four years years for rape and sexual activity with a child
- Abdirashid Abdulahi, 21 – four years for rape
- Omar Jumale, 20 – two years for sexual activity with a child
- Mohamed Dahir, age unknown – two years for causing child prostitution
When sentencing Zakaria, the judge said:
“You showed utter disregard for her integrity…You were merciless. I will show you no mercy, nor should you receive it.”
The men will be subject to the notification regime (known as the sex offenders register) and the length for which they will be required to comply will be dependent on the length of their sentences. Sentences of over 30 months require lifetime registration.
Without knowing the full details it is impossible to assess the sentences as to whether they are they too harsh or too lenient – however based on the judge’s comments, you might think it unlikely that they fall at the lower end of the scale.
We’ll keep our eyes out for news of an appeal.
It is reported that a serious case review will be conducted and that the operation will continue. So far 10 girls have come forward however it not known how many of those were complainants in the two trials. It seems likely the local authority will come in for some hefty criticism if the media reports are anything to go by.