FOUR men who took advantage of a vulnerable 13-year-old and cynically “sexually corrupted” her have been jailed for a total of 51 years.
Tariq Islam, Nasir Sultan, Amir Zaman and Zafar Iqbal are among ten men found guilty of a range of serious sexual offences committed against the youngster in the Beeston area of Leeds.
A court heard the youngster was groomed, systematically abused and sometimes forced to have sex against her will by the defendants who all knew she was under age.
A jury at Leeds Crown Court heard the girl would be given cigarettes and alcohol, contacted via Facebook with demands for sex and picked up in the street and ordered to get into cars with the men.
Jailing the men, judge Geoffrey Marson, QC, said: “(the victim) was systematically abused, in some cases by men who knew each other and exchanged their experiences with each other which no doubt led to further sexual abuse.
“Over a period of more than six weeks I have had the opportunity of observing the defendants and hearing their evidence.
“Not one of them has uttered a single word or sentiment of remorse.
“Their only concern is that they have been caught and brought to justice.”
Describing the offending, prosecutor Michelle Colbourne, QC, said: “She was corrupted sexually and exploited in various ways by each of these men.
“Sexual activity with girls under 16 is against the law because no matter how precocious or willing they may say they are, they are children and need protection.” Amir Zaman, 25 , of Sefton Terrace, Beeston, was jailed for 11 years after being convicted of four offences of sexual activity with a child.
The jury heard he was the first to abuse the girl after tricking her into believing she was his girlfriend despite being nine years older than her and being married with four children.
Zaman took the youngster to a graveyard where sexual contact took place. Zaman went on the run before the case came to trial and is still at large. The court heard he may have fled the country.
Zafar Iqbal, 41, of Latchmere Drive, Horsforth, was jailed for 15 years after being convicted of one offence of attempted rape and two of sexual activity with a child.
Iqbal committed the offences after winning the victim’s confidence by giving her cigarettes, whiskey and cannabis.
Tariq Islam, 31, of Cross Quarry Street, Woodhouse, was jailed for 13 years after being convicted of two offences of rape.
The court heard Islam locked the girl in his car on one occasion and forced her to have sex with him. He threatened the victim with violence if she did not comply with his sexual demands.
Nasir Sultan, 24, of Beeston Road, Beeston, was jailed for two offences of rape. One of the offences took place in Beeston Cemetery.
Sultan contacted the girl on Facebook after the incident and told her to keep it a secret.
Judge Marson said the victim would be unlikely to ever recover from the psychological damage she has suffered as a result of the abuse.
He said: “There have been other cases not dissimilar to this one.
“They have received widespread publicity. Whatever (the victim’s) problems were, it should be clearly understood that this sort of repeated and systematic abuse will not be tolerated.
“The courts will protect as best they can, young children.
The judge added: “Although these offences were committed in the Beeston area, it is not to be taken as a condemnation of those who live there.
“There are many good, honourable and decent hard-working people in that area.
“It is the defendants who have brought shame upon themselves and the community.”
Six other men are to be sentenced at a later date.
After the case, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Griffin, who heads Leeds District Safeguarding Unit, said: “The sexual exploitation and abuse of vulnerable children and young people is a despicable and insidious crime. It is an issue that cuts across all communities and cultures.
“The conviction of these men today has come about as a direct result of our work alongside our partner agencies in what has been a challenging and complex investigation.
“It should stand as a clear illustration of the ongoing commitment we all have to bringing those responsible for such crimes to justice and we hope it will help to give other victims the confidence to come forward.
“Protecting the victims of sexual exploitation remains our main priority and we work closely with the council’s children’s services, the local safeguarding children board and third sector agencies to that end.
“It is important in this case that we recognise the courage the victim has shown, particularly in giving evidence in court.
“These offences have had a life-changing impact on her and we hope that knowing the men who abused her have had to face the consequences of their actions will be some source of comfort.
“Cases of this nature can understandably cause concerns in the community so it has been reassuring to see there have been no wider issues in Beeston as a result of this investigation. The work of local officers in keeping key community contacts updated throughout the case has played an important role.
“West Yorkshire Police is continuing to develop its approach to tackling child sexual exploitation alongside our partner agencies and we are working more closely together than ever before to co-ordinate our work and share information.”