A major trial into alleged child sexual exploitation (CSE) offences began this week at Sheffield Crown Court.
Seven defendants – Arshid Hussain, Basharat Hussain, Qurban Ali, Majid Bostan, Sajid Bostan, Karen MacGregor and Shelley Davies – deny over 60 charges between them. They include rape, indecent assault, false imprisonment, abduction and procurement of girls for prostitution.
The trial follows a 2014 report by Professor Alexis Jay that estimated that at least 1,400 children had suffered CSE in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.
The prosecution opened its case yesterday, Thursday. Some 12 people were allegedly groomed by the defendants when they were girls between the late 1980s and 2003. The court heard that one victim was just 11 years old when the grooming began.
Michelle Colborne QC told the court of the defendants, “It is alleged that in different ways they facilitated the sexual abuse of teenage girls.”
She said some of the girls “had unsettled home lives, had suffered previous ill treatment or abuse and some were in local authority care”.
The court heard that the girls were deliberately “targeted, sexualised and in some instances subjected to acts of a degrading and violent nature”.
Colborne said one alleged victim was abused by both Hussain brothers from the age of 14, and handled guns and drugs for them. The alleged victim described them as “owning Rotherham” and said she felt she had to do what they told her.
The court heard that the authorities did not investigate why some alleged victims went missing even though they were in care.
The jury also heard that a mother whose 14 year old daughter was associating with older Asian men tried to intervene and was threatened that her house would be firebombed.
Colbourne said one girl allegedly abused by Basharat Hussain feared for her life.
Arshid Hussain faces 29 counts relating to nine girls. The court heard that he passed the youngest alleged victim to others to be abused in flats, garages and houses in Rotherham and London.
The court heard that the alleged victim was regularly abused and that no one in her care home expressed concern when she returned home “in a bloodied state”.
Colborne said, “His exploitation of her was violent and protracted. Initially she attempted to say no but was always beaten if she refused and quickly learned to give in to his demands.
“She was insecure and vulnerable and believed he was her boyfriend.”
Colborne added that over time Arshid Hussain “gave her as a payment to men for debts he owed”.
Defendant Qurban Ali, an uncle of Arshid and Basharat Hussain, owns minicab firm Speedline Taxis. MacGregor worked there as a radio operator.
The jury heard that the Hussain brothers plied some girls with alcohol and drugs before subjecting them to abuse. The court heard that five of the girls became pregnant as a result of the abuse and four had abortions.
The jury heard that one victim “suffered years of mental and physical cruelty”. Her mother confiscated her phone after she met Basharat Hussain, but Hussain would replace it.
Colborne said, “He would habitually be violent. He would slap, punch, kick and spit at her.”
The court heard that the girl went to police a number of times and asked to go into the witness protection programme. Hussain allegedly told her he had a paid mole in the police force and knew about her plans.
Another victim said she was taken to one house that was run like a brothel and recognised a man there “as an MP or councillor from Rotherham”.
Colborne said one alleged victim, Girl A, lived in “squalid conditions” and was befriended by Shelley Davies who took her to stay at MacGregor’s house.
Colborne said one night she passed out in MacGregor’s house after drinking vodka, and woke up to find herself being sexually assaulted by an unknown man.
Colborne said the alleged victim “was plied with vodka to a point where she was incapacitated and taken upstairs by Karen MacGregor with the intention that the unidentified male would have sexual intercourse with her”.
The prosecution argued that MacGregor “deliberately set out to make girls available for sexual encounters with older men”. The court heard that one victim was abused in MacGregor’s house for six weeks and wasn’t allowed to leave.
Colborne said that MacGregor and Davis “worked together” and intended that two victims “would be prostituted” and one held “against her will”.
The trial continues.