Man jailed for child sexual offences - Oxford

06/03/2015

A man appeared at Oxford Crown Court today, Friday, 06 March 2015, and was jailed for 18 years after being convicted of a string of sexual offences against young girls.

Tilal Mahdi, aged 36, of Friars Street, Hereford, was found guilty by a jury, after a two-week trial, of two counts of conspiracy to rape a girl under 16, conspiracy to indecently assault a girl under 16, trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation, and arranging or facilitating prostitution of a child under 18.  He was found not guilty of two counts of rape and buggery.

Mahdi is the tenth man to be convicted and sentenced as part of Operation Bullfinch, an ongoing operation into the sexual abuse of young girls in the Oxford area.

The offences were commited against two girls, who were aged between 13 and 15 at the time of the offences, between 1996 and 2008 in the Oxford area, and other cities within England.

Mahdi was arrested in November 2014 after being issued as a wanted person by Thames Valley Police earlier in the year. He had been named by the victims as part of the Operation Bullfinch investigation into child sexual exploitation (CSE).

During the trial, the court heard that although separated by twelve years,  the experiences of the young women in relation to Mahdi had been very similar.

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "The abuse these girls were subjected to was truly appalling. No-one, let alone a child, should ever be exploited as these young victims were. Today's sentence reflects the seriousness of the offences, and the young age and vulnerability of the victims when the offences were committed.

"The two victims, who were aged between 13 and 15, were actively targeted between 1996 and 2008 and groomed by Tilal Mahdi. Once befriended, given attention, alcohol and drugs and made to feel special, they were used and abused for the sexual gratification of himself and others. A number of tactics were deployed to ensure compliance namely the use of power, emotional pressure, threats and violence. As a result, the girls were left in absolutely no position to give true and free consent to the sexual acts.

"This is an important point for other victims out there, who may think that they won't be believed because they too seemingly 'agreed' to sexual activity. The background and context of such sexual activity is of crucial importance and victims who are forced to succumb to it by the use of such tactics do not, in the eyes of the law, consent to it. Their freedom to make a choice has been cruelly taken away from them.

"Conversely, Mahdi made a choice, as an adult, to prey upon vulnerable young girls, who he believed were unlikely to understand that what he was doing was exploitative, were less likely to complain about it, and if they did, were less likely to be believed because of their backgrounds. He is nothing less than a sexual predator.

"The Crown Prosecution Service has made tackling child sexual abuse a national priority. In 2013, the Director of Public Prosecutions announced a radical programme of work in this area to ensure that police and prosecutors deliver justice for more victims than ever before. We are becoming increasingly adept at securing convictions and delivering justice for victims.

"This case shows our approach is working and I urge any victims of sexual offences to come forward and report their abuse. We will support you in giving evidence so that your attackers can be brought to justice and others like you can be saved from the horrific ordeal of abuse.

"I hope that today's sentence provides some comfort for the victims of this case and for their families, and helps them to move on and rebuild their lives. Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time."

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Mark Glover said: "Although the offences were separated by 12 years, the experiences of these young women were very similar which points towards a pattern of appalling behaviour by Mahdi.

"He would befriend the girls and make them feel wanted and special. Once he'd gained their trust, he would then use them for his own sexual gratification. Not only that, but he would then allow others to abuse the girls as well.

"The girls were underage, they were threatened and they were plied with alcohol and drugs, so felt they had no choice but to do what Mahdi told them. This was a case of sexual exploitation, with Mahdi exercising power over these girls for his own horrific needs.

"Today's sentence is testament to those girls for having the courage to come forward and tell police what had happened to them. Because of that bravery, a dangerous sexual predator is behind bars.

"I hope it also goes some way to showing how committed we are to tackle Child Sexual Exploitation, supporting victims and prosecuting offenders.

"If you have been a victim of abuse, or think you know someone who has been, please don't hesitate to get in touch."