Grooming gang members found guilty of sexually assaulting vulnerable girl

Mohammed Akram was found guilty by a jury of a range of offences. Another defendant Usman Khalid (not pictured) was convicted of the sexual assault of the same victim. Photo: West Yorkshire Police.
Mohammed Akram was found guilty by a jury of a range of offences. Another defendant Usman Khalid (not pictured) was convicted of the sexual assault of the same victim. Photo: West Yorkshire Police.

An investigation into a gang that groomed and sexually abused underage victims has led to more convictions after a vulnerable girl was repeatedly raped.

Mohammed Akram was found guilty by a Leeds Crown Court jury of a range of offences, including rape, abduction and trafficking, while another defendant, Usman Khalid, was convicted of the sexual assault of the same victim.

They were investigated as part of a gang that groomed and abused girls, some as young as 11, between 2004 and 2011 in West Yorkshire.

Last year, 20 of the gang's members were sentenced for the "inhuman" abuse of a total of 15 girls, leading to a total jail term of 257 years between them.

Akram and Khalid's three-week trial is the fourth to take place in total involving the gang and centred on allegations that a vulnerable girl was abused in Huddersfield at the age of 12.

In opening the case for the prosecution, Richard Wright QC said that the victim was "deliberately targeted by men who wanted to use her for their own sexual purposes".

The prosecutor said that both Akram, 33, and 31-year-old Khalid had "sexual contact" with the girl, despite knowing she was underage.

He said she had been taken out of the children's home where she was living for a "sinister, ultimately sexually motivated purpose".

Mr Wright said that the actions of the two defendants contributed towards the girl being "drawn into a world in which she had little or no control of her life and was utterly unable to make truly free or informed choices about anything where sex was concerned".

Following more than a day of deliberations, a Leeds Crown Court jury found Akram, of Springdale Street, Huddersfield, guilty of four counts of rape, as well as a count of sexual assault by a majority verdict.

He was also convicted of trafficking for sexual exploitation and abduction but was cleared of one rape charge.

Akram was also a defendant in the third of the gang's trials last year when he was convicted of two counts of trafficking for sexual exploitation and two of rape.

He was given a 17-year jail sentence for those offences after a judge told him he had shown a "complete disregard for the safety" of those he abused.

In the fourth trial, Khalid, of Brook Street, Huddersfield, was convicted of sexual assault by a majority verdict. Jurors had previously been directed to find him not guilty of a charge of child abduction.

Meanwhile, jurors failed to reach verdicts on Naveeda Habib, 40, and Shahnaz Malik, 57, who were both accused of child cruelty.

Prosecutors said on Tuesday they would not be seeking a retrial in relation to Malik, of St Anne's Avenue, Huddersfield, and Habib, of Prince Wood Lane, Huddersfield.

Akram and Khalid will be sentenced at Leeds Crown Court at a later date.

-> The 20 Huddersfield child grooming gang members named and each jail term

-> Huddersfield grooming gang: Guilty men showed no remorse for harrowing sexual abuse and rape