Member of South Yorkshire gang jailed for abusing 13-year-old girl shouted 'no justice' as he left court

(L-R) Makhmood, Ali and Iqbal have been jailed for a total of 21 years and nine months for 15 offences of indecent assault carried out against a girl aged between 12 and 13-years-old
(L-R) Makhmood, Ali and Iqbal have been jailed for a total of 21 years and nine months for 15 offences of indecent assault carried out against a girl aged between 12 and 13-years-old

One member of a group of South Yorkshire men, jailed for over 21-years for grooming and abusing a young girl, shouted 'no justice' as he was escorted out of the court to begin his sentence.

Judge David Dixon sentenced Riaz Makhmood, 39 to six years, nine months and gave both Sajid Ali, 38, and Zaheer Iqbal, 40 sentences of seven-and-a-half-years, after the three defendants were found unanimously guilty of 15 counts of indecent assault.

Zaheer Iqbal

Zaheer Iqbal

The outburst came at the conclusion of the hearing at Sheffield Crown Court this afternoon.

The court was told how all three men groomed a 'vulnerable' girl, aged between 12 and 13-years-old, before sexually abusing her in the Masbrough area of Rotherham for a period of a year during the mid-1990s.

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Riaz Makhmood

Riaz Makhmood

Ali, Makhmood and Iqbal would ply the girl with cigarettes and alcohol so she felt she owed them something, and threatened to tell her mother she was a 'slag' if she did not do what they wanted

Judge Dixon told them: "Each of you in your own way perpetuated and facilitated the abuse of a vulnerable, young girl," adding: "Like many, she simply wanted to be liked and you preyed on that."

He continued: "The memories haunt her."

Their victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is now in her 30s, and first went to the police in 2014 after watching a Panorama investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham which made her realise she was 'not alone' in the type of abuse she had suffered.

Sajid Ali

Sajid Ali

The brave survivor, who was present in court to see her abusers get sentenced, explained through a victim impact statement how the abuse had led to her suffering from eating disorders, depression and anxiety.

She said: "I feel like the abuse I have suffered has ruined my life. My teenage years, which I should look back on with affection were lost and mired.

"This still haunts and impacts on my and my families lives."

Prosecutor, Sophie Drake, explained how the woman initially believed Ali was her boyfriend, before he pressurised her into performing sex acts on him, and began 'passing her round' to do the same to Iqbal and Makhmood.

The court was told that the offences only stopped when the woman’s mother stopped her from spending time in the Masbrough area when she was 13. The woman said her mother was only made aware of the situation after she finally broke her silence in 2014.

This was the first trial, and first convictions, in the National Crime Agency's Operation Stovewood, which investigates non-familial child sexual exploitation in Rotherham carried out between 1997 and 2013.

Operation Stovewood Senior Investigating Officer Paul Williamson said:

“This is the first trial under Operation Stovewood and we have only been able to get to this point as a result of the bravery of the victim to come forward and tell her story.

“Our investigations are complex in nature and scale and the commitment of officers – building trust and relationships with victims – should not be underestimated .

“It has been challenging to get to this point, but I have no doubt today’s conviction will give victims the confidence that they will be listened to, and that the individuals who exploited them in the worst imaginable way are finally held accountable for their actions.

“Working with South Yorkshire Police, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and the many other partners we are engaged with, we will not stop in our endeavors to get justice for the victims and survivors who have shown great courage and dignity in coming forward”.

Since 2014, when the NCA launched Operation Stovewood, 28 individuals have been arrested and 21 have been charged with 94 child abuse and exploitation offences.

There are 36 separate investigations ongoing and 88 suspects have been identified so far. Officers are actively engaging with 239 victims and this number is expected to increase.

Ali, of Jones Street, Masbrough was found guilty of seven counts of indecent assault.

Iqbal, of St Johns Avenue, Masbrough, was found guilty of five counts of indecent assault.

Makhmood, of Falding Street, Masbrough was found guilty of three counts of indecent assault.