Operation Bullfinch trial verdicts - Oxford

14/05/2013

A jury at the Old Bailey has today, Tuesday, 14 May 2013, found seven men guilty of offences including rape, facilitating child prostitution, and trafficking following a two-year investigation into Child Sexual Exploitation in Oxford.

The jury returned 59 guilty verdicts against the men at the end of a trial lasting four months.

Operation Bullfinch is a joint investigation, which was launched by Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire County Council Social Services in May 2011, into suspected serious sexual offences against a number of children and young people in Oxford.

In March 2012, warrants were executed across the city leading to the arrest of 18 people.

Nine men were initially charged and stood trial in January this year.  The following have been found guilty:

  •  Kamar Jamil, aged 27, of Aldrich Road, Oxford - eight offences including rape, facilitating child prostitution and trafficking.
  •  Akhtar Dogar, aged 32, of Tawney Street, Oxford - 11 offences including rape, facilitating child prostitution and conspiracy to rape.
  • Anjum Dogar, aged 31, of Tawney Street, Oxford - nine offences including rape, facilitating child prostitution and conspiracy to rape.
  • Assad Hussain, aged 32, of Ashhurst Way, Oxford - two offences of sexual activity with a child.
  •  Mohammed Karrar, aged 38, of Kames Close, Oxford -18 offences including rape of a child under 13, facilitating child prostitution and using an instrument to procure a miscarriage.
  • Bassam Karrar, aged 33, of Hundred Acres Close, Oxford - nine offences including conspiracy to rape a child under 13, rape of a child under 13 and trafficking within the United Kingdom for sexual exploitation.
  • Zeeshan Ahmed, aged 27, of Palmer Road, Wood Farm, Oxford - two offences of sexual activity with a child.
    An eighth man, Mohammed Hussain, was found not guilty of three offences.

A  26-year-old man was found not guilty of sexual activity with a child.

Baljit Ubhey OBE, Chief Crown Prosecutor 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.  To all who bravely came forward to provide evidence for the prosecution, I say a heart-felt thank you. You have enabled your abusers to face trial and be brought to justice.

"The men who have been convicted have still failed to accept any responsibility for their actions. They are nothing less than vicious sexual predators.  The jury saw through their fabrications and they must now face full responsibility for their actions. And I thank the jury too for their careful attention and deliberation in this case.

"The Crown Prosecution Service has made tackling child sexual abuse a national priority.  And the Director of Public Prosecutions has recently announced a radical programme of work in this area to ensure that police and prosecutors deliver justice for more victims than ever before.

"In this case we worked closely with Thames Valley Police from early in the investigation to help build the strongest possible prosecution case. Their investigators, and Crown Prosecution Service lawyers and caseworkers have worked tirelessly to bring this difficult prosecution to court.

"These cases are, in effect, organised crime, and we approached it in the same way we would approach any organised crime case by making connections, and building an understanding of perpetrator networks. 

"So, to any other groups out there abusing victims in this way, I say this: you are on notice. We are becoming increasingly adept at securing convictions and delivering justice for victims. 

"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 very much hope the verdicts provide some comfort for the victims of this case and for their families, and help them to move on and rebuild their lives.  Our thoughts are with them all at this time."

Senior Investigating Officer Simon Morton from Thames Valley Police said: "This has been one of the most complex and difficult cases ever faced by Thames Valley Police and I am pleased these men have been brought to justice for their vile and abhorrent crimes.

"It is clear there was an organised and sophisticated gang of predatory men who set up a criminal business of, corrupting, isolating and abusing the girls and selling them for sexual purposes.

"The girls have lived through hell and for them to come to court and give evidence has been nothing short of incredible. The strength and fortitude they have shown has been inspirational. I only hope they can draw a line under this traumatic period of their lives and move forward.

"I want to say to any other victims out there, any girls or boys who have been victims of sexual abuse, that we can help you and I urge you to come forward and assist us in bringing other offenders to justice.

"While this has been a deeply distressing case, it is a relief these men are now in the right place and that is behind bars."

Thames Valley Police Chief Constable Sara Thornton said: "These verdicts are the result of six incredibly brave young women giving evidence during a long and complex trial. They have all shown great strength of character, spending up to six days giving evidence and reliving their horrific experiences. I would like to praise their courage and bravery and I have thanked each of these young women individually. Without their evidence getting convictions against these offenders would have difficult.

"These offences were committed by violent sexual predators who exploited the vulnerability of young teenagers. They deliberately befriended the girls to gain their trust in order to exploit them. The girls could not resist and it was hard for them to report.

"I am very sorry this case took so long to get to court and I have said so to all the young women. There were earlier opportunities which were not taken. The victims, who were young girls at the time, were reluctant to give evidence through a combination of fear and manipulation by the offenders.

"It is right to say lessons have been learned. We have invested additional resources, staff and money into safeguarding children across the Force.

"In Oxford, we have developed and implemented the Kingfisher team, a multi-agency initiative where police officers and social workers link in with health and education with the sole aim of dealing with Child Sexual Exploitation.

"Our officers are trained in identifying the telltale signs of abuse and dealing with victims and we are running high-profile disruption patrols in Oxford. We are spending more money in this area and have more staff working on tackling child sexual exploitation than ever before.

"We will listen to victims who come forward and we will support them. If anyone has any suspicions that children are being exploited then please tell us."

Superintendent Christian Bunt, Oxford LPA Commander, said: "Firstly, I want to commend these young victims who came forward for showing such bravery and strength, and helping bring these offenders to justice.

"This case has opened our eyes to child sexual exploitation in Oxford and we have significant measures in place to tackle this type of crime.

"That includes training for every member of our frontline staff and running dedicated and regular patrols around the city to identify any potential victims or offenders.

"We also make it a priority to regularly update and engage with the community to reassure them that everything is being done to safeguard children from sexual exploitation in Oxford."

The men will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Wednesday, 26 June 2013.