UK

Oxford Paedophile Grooming Ring Sentenced To Life In Prison

27/06/2013 16:52 BST | Updated 27/06/2013 16:56 BST

Five members of a sadistic paedophile ring found guilty of grooming vulnerable underage girls were given life sentences for their "depraved" crimes, as campaigners said lessons had to be learnt from the horrific case.

Brothers Akhtar Dogar, 32, and Anjum Dogar, 31, and Mohammed Karrar, 38, and Bassam Karrar, 34, were handed the life terms alongside Kamar Jamil, 27.

The five were sentenced for a catalogue of offences along with two other gang members by Judge Peter Rook, who spoke of how "police and social services missed telltale signs" about the abuse that was taking place.

paedophile

The seven men were found guilty at the Old Bailey

The judge outlined how the men groomed the girls, four of whom faced their attackers in the packed courtroom.

"You would build up their trust and provide them with drink, drugs and the attention which they craved," he said.

"From a misguided loyalty to you, they were reluctant to tell the authorities what was happening to them.

"The jury have found that they came to this court to tell the truth. It is to be hoped that their courage in coming forward to give evidence has not only exposed your activity but will send a message to and act as a deterrent to others who are tempted to act in this way.

"It is hoped that lessons will be learnt and the authorities now don't hesitate to take action."

The two other defendants, Zeeshan Ahmed, 28, and Assad Hussain, 32, were both jailed for seven years after being found guilty of two counts of sexual activity with a child.

Oxford Abuse Trial Reveals Medieval Attitudes Toward Young Girls (BLOG)

Judge Rook told the Dogar brothers they had been found guilty of "exceptionally grave crimes" as he jailed them both for a minimum of 17 years.

He told them: "Your offences involved depravation designed to humiliate your victims."

Members of the public would rightly feel "abhorrence" at what they had done, he added.

The judge told them and Jamil: "Your depraved crimes involved the brutal exploitation of three young and vulnerable girls."

Jailing Jamil for life with a minimum term of 12 years, the judge said: "I accept that you were a follower rather than a leader, the leadership role was played by the Dogar brothers."

But he said he had joined in the group rape of one of the victims and accepted that he was a risk to girls aged 11 to 16.

The case has raised questions over why more was not done when some professionals seemed to be aware of wrongdoing.

Oxfordshire County Council said a serious case review carried out by the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board started in May and will be published in full, but has not yet been completed.

A statement from the county council said: "The council hopes these sentences send out a strong message that child sexual exploitation will not be tolerated in Oxfordshire.

"We would like to praise the courage of the victims for giving evidence in court that has led to these sentences, and we are sorry we did not stop it sooner.

"We have learned a great deal about how to prevent and disrupt child sexual exploitation, and are working closely with other agencies to root it out in Oxfordshire.

"Along with Thames Valley Police, we encourage anybody in Oxfordshire who may have been the victim of this kind of abuse - or knows someone who has - to talk to our specialist team in confidence."

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said the sentences sent a strong message to grooming gangs, but would bring little relief to victims who may have suffered irrevocable damage.

"For them the story doesn't end here and they will need years of support to rebuild their lives," he said. "Whilst we recognise the authorities in Oxford did eventually take effective and coordinated action, this took far too long.

"There was a systematic failure to stop the gang earlier and protect the girls who raised the alarm on several occasions.

"The trial revealed that staff knew one of the girls was being sexually groomed yet no immediate action was taken.

"We need a fundamental shift in how the system treats vulnerable young people with all carers acting as good parents would when children are at risk."

He said the positive development was that professionals are now treating the girls as victims rather than "delinquent children" meaning more cases were being picked up and those needing help were getting the right protection.

"We must build on the lessons learned here and make sure we now see the promised changes in culture from the police and the criminal justice system in which children coming forward to allege sexual abuse are treated seriously," he added.

Javed Khan, of independent charity Victim Support, said the control exerted by the men amounted to "modern-day slavery".

"These were men who sought to deprive their victims of a voice and of their basic human rights.

"The control they exerted only intensified the vulnerability of their victims and must surely be described as modern-day slavery."

He said the charity would continue to help the women as they tried to rebuild their lives, and added: "With serious cases of trafficking and grooming now exposed in Oxford, Telford and Rochdale, we must ask searching questions about the scale of the problem and what can be done both nationally and locally to ensure that vulnerable young people are protected from sexual slavery.

"Recent announcements made by Ministry of Justice, the Crown Prosecution Service and College of Policing to improve how cases of sex abuse are investigated and prosecuted are absolutely welcomed, but as this case has shown agencies at all levels must work differently to reduce victimisation. Victim Support stands ready to play its full part in making this happen."

Barnardo's director of children's services Sam Monaghan said questions needed to be asked if enough was being done to support the victims of sexual exploitation.

"What we have heard at the Old Bailey is chilling. The torment the child victims suffered will be a life sentence for them.

"When sexually exploited children are so desperate to escape their ordeal that they consider committing suicide and are threatened with barbaric reprisals, we need to ask whether enough is being done to support them.

"These men were able to abuse children for eight years. That can't be allowed to happen again. A fundamental shift in the collective mindset is needed at every level of the justice system.

"This is a stark reminder that everyone who deals with vulnerable children must be trained to spot the signs of abuse and sexual exploitation to remember that in every case they are children."

Andy Dipper, from Oxford Community Against Trafficking (Oxcat) said they would be applying pressure to ensure changes in the justice and care systems.

"Lessons need to be learnt and quickly. We want to make sure other victims understand we will listen, and we will believe them."

He said: "We have heard the recommendations from our senior politicians and now we must see action. There simply isn't time to waste.

"Victims are being stigmatised and discouraged from reporting their horrific abuse because of a system which is ponderous, accusatory and further traumatises them.

"The community, police and social services need to provide a safe haven for anyone - young or old, male or female - who is a victim of this horrendous crime.

"Be in no doubt, Oxcat will be applying constant pressure to see changes in our justice system and care services. Don't forget this happened in Oxford, in our neighbourhood."

Oxford Paedophile Ring