Concept of grooming central to multi-defendant, sexual-offences trial

News report by Helen Gavaghan, 26th February 2019

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Today a jury at Crown Court in Bradford found nine men guilty of serious sexual offences. The men are now in custody awaiting sentencing tomorrow morning. The trial for rape continues in the case of Yasser Majid (37), and resumes tomorrow morning. All events took place in Bradford or Dewsbury, said Kama Melly QC, the prosecutor. The junior prosecutor is Miss Beattie.

There are two victims, who are now adult women.

Those awaiting sentencing are: Basharat Khaliq (37), found guilty on five counts of raping victim A and one count of assault by penetration of victim B.

Saeed Akhtar (55) was found guilty of two charges of causing or inciting child prostitution and one charge of rape. All three counts relate to victim B.

Naveed Akhtar (43) was found guilty of two charges of rape of victim B, and not guilty of a third count of rape of the same person.

Parvase Ahmed (36) was found guilty of three charges of rape of victim B.

Izar Hussain (32) was found guilty on one count of rape and one count of attempted rape of victim B. Mr Hussain was found not guilty of two counts of raping complainant B.

Zeeshan Ali (32) was found guilty of sexual assault of victim B.

Kieran Harris (28) was found guilty of two counts of rape of victim B. On one of those counts Faheem Iqbal (28) was found guilty of aiding and abetting Kieran Harris in the rape of victim B.

Mohammed Usman (31) was found guilty of two counts of raping victim B.

His Honour Judge Durham-Hall QC told the jury before sending them out to deliberate that this was the first full trial.

An issue in the trial was whether the victims had been groomed. "It has no definition in law," said the judge. "One of the consequences of grooming is that it has the capacity to subvert free choice."

Both victims were in care when the activities called grooming began. The offences took place between mid 2008 and mid 2011.

Noisy agitation from the public gallery greeted the verdicts. His honour made clear further such displays would not be permitted tomorrow. However, once the jury had been sent out to continue their deliberations the judge remarked to counsel that he had noted that relatives of one of the defendants though understandably distressed had behaved decorously.

His honour made clear that any victim impact statement tomorrow would be heard respectfully.

On leaving the Court room I noted at least eight uniformed police officers immediately outside and intermingling with those who had left the public gallery. I observed no arrests. Plain clothes officers and Court security staff were also present.

Final posting 18.25 gmt 26.02.2019. HG

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