Five Coventry men have been jailed for a total of 38 years today (Thursday 26 January) after a jury convicted them of serious sexual offences following a six week trial which ended last month.
The five were found guilty of 18 charges of rape, sexual assault and human trafficking against two girls who both gave evidence to the court detailing how they had been targeted.
The gang, led by 24-year-old Waqaar Khan (below), used social media over a period of months to contact the girls and groom them before arranging to meet them with the promise of gifts and shopping trips.
This led to the girls being picked up by taxis and taken to parties, or just dropped off at car parks, where the men would ply them with alcohol and drugs before abusing them.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Green, from the force’s Public Protection Unit, welcomed today’s sentences. He said: “The sexual abuse of young girls is inexcusable.
“The effects can last a lifetime and I am determined that by working with the Horizon Team we can protect other vulnerable young people.
“Our investigation into Waqaar Khan’s network is still on-going and we are continuing to sift through thousands of texts to identify further potential victims and their abusers.
“I hope that these convictions will give others the courage to come forward.”
The five men were sentenced as follows:
Waqaar Khan aged 24, for two counts of human trafficking and three of rape – two and a half years and 12 years to run concurrently.
Kadeem Bourne (top left), aged 23, for two counts of human trafficking, one of sexual assault and one of rape – 18 months, 18 months and 12 years to run concurrently.
Marcus Woolcock (top right), aged 23, for one count each of human trafficking and sexual assault – two years and two and a half years to run concurrently.
Zahid Choudhary (bottom right), aged 20, for one count of human trafficking – 18 months.
Kenan Kelly (bottom left), aged 19, for one count of human trafficking, one of sexual assault and two counts of rape – two years, two and a half years and nine years to run concurrently. Kelly was also sentenced to one year for possession of class A drugs with intent to supply which will run consecutively.
All will be placed on the Sex Offender Register for life with the exception of Woolcock who will remain on it for five years.
The team that played a key role in their conviction has also welcomed their sentencing.
The Horizon Team is a special multi-agency team set up to discover, disrupt and tackle Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in Coventry.
The team consists of social workers, specialist police officers and health partners, and also works closely with support groups and charities.
In addition Warwickshire’s CSE team also provided support throughout the investigation.
John Gregg, Director of Children’s Services for Coventry City Council, said: “The work of the Horizon Team marks an evolution in our approach to tackling CSE. This case is a positive example of multi agency partnership working in both Coventry and Warwickshire in tackling Child Sexual Exploitation.
“We have been criticised in the past for not working closely enough with partners. We listened to that criticism and the result is that five dangerous men are facing a long time in jail.
“I recognise the immense courage of the young people who took the huge step to place their trust in the Horizon Team. I hope they feel that trust was justified and I hope any other young person finding themselves facing such horrific situations knows there is a team waiting to support them and take them seriously.”
The work of the Horizon Team was recently highly praised at the prestigious national Social Worker of the Year awards where they received a Silver Award in the team category.
The award recognised not only the work partners do to support victims but also the continuous work to raise awareness of CSE throughout the city.
That work includes training groups including taxi drivers, hotel staff and health workers to spot the signs of CSE and related behaviours.
John Gregg added: “CSE is a national issue and safeguarding our children is everyone’s responsibility, so much of the work of Horizon is to keep raising awareness and making sure CSE is something everyone is aware of.
“CSE is something that can happen to all children − both boys and girls – from any walk of life, and we all have a duty be vigilant and report it.”
Where to get help:
The See Me Hear Me campaign is raising awareness of the signs of child sexual exploitation amongst parents, professionals and young people themselves.
Supported by West Midlands Police, the region’s seven local authorities and children’s charities, the See Me Hear Me website explains how to spot the signs of exploitation and where to go to get help. Find out more at www.seeme-hearme.org.uk
If you are – or know anyone who is – being sexually exploited, please call us on 101. If you would prefer to give information anonymously, you can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The dedicated number for Coventry’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) is 02476 788555
In Warwickshire, contact the Child Sexual Exploitation Team on 01926 742226 8.30am-5.30pm Monday-Thursday, 8.30am-5.00pm Friday.
Childline also have counsellors available online at www.childline.org.uk
Source:: West Midlands Police News