Friday, October 25, 2013


The jury in the trial of three men, from Middlesbrough, and a teenager accused of sexually exploiting under-age girls has been told it must not draw comparisons with similar cases.
Judge John Walford, prior to the prosecution opening at Teesside Crown Court, told the panel: "These are the sort of allegations which tend to arouse emotions - allegations of sexual misconduct towards children.
"Comparisons may be drawn with other cases where other, similar allegations have been made in other towns and cities in this country - cases which have given rise to public debate and discussion.
"For reasons which I hope are obvious, not least because you must decide the case on the evidence and only the evidence, it's important you disregard any views which you may have heard or found about what happened in other towns and cities involving different groups of people on different occasions in the past."
Taxi driver Shakil Munir, 32, of Tollesby Road, Junaid Butt, 18, of Kensington Road, Ibrar Mahmood, 18, of Breckon Hill Road, all Middlesbrough, and a 17-year-old, who cannot be identified, deny all charges against them.
The jury has been told that a fifth man, Sakib Ahmed, 18, of Cambridge Road, Middlesbrough, has admitted five counts of sexual activity with a child.
Christopher Knox, prosecuting, said: "This case involves the exploitation of a group of young girls - they were by and large 14 at the relevant times although one was only 13 - by a group of loosely connected young men."
Apart from Munir, the defendants were three or four years older than the girls they picked on, the prosecution said.
"When you get further on in the mortal coil, four years doesn't seem a lot but two, three, four years at that age is a big deal," Mr Knox said.
Some of the charges relate to a defendant asking and getting an underage girl to perform oral sex on him.
Others involved touching girls sexually, while some charges related to regular sex, albeit with a girl under the age of consent.
The victims were groomed and shared by the defendants, the jury was told.
"The young girls in almost all cases in some shape or form have been groomed by these young men and sometimes passed from one to another," Mr Knox said.
One girl was persuaded to perform oral sex and then she was told her boyfriend would be informed if she did not do it again on further occasions.
"This is not boyfriend-girlfriend, this is exploitation," Mr Knox said. "Exploitative relationships in which you have grooming."
A girl would be pressured after she had been befriended, the court heard, then brought gradually into a sexual relationship.
BlackBerry BBM messages and Facebook communication was a feature of the case.
Mr Knox said there were examples of two defendants taking a girl and her friend out for a drive.
While one man stayed in the car and pressured a girl to have sex, the other defendant would leave with his girl.
Mahmood approached two 14-year-old girls in the town's Albert Park last summer and demanded "a blow job", Mr Knox said.
On another four occasions he "persuaded, cajoled or you might even say blackmailed" one of them to perform oral sex, by threatening to tell her boyfriend what she had previously done, Mr Knox said.
Mahmood was said to have grabbed two girls in the park and grappled with them, making sexual demands.
Days later he pounced again, telling the same 14-year-old girl he had been blackmailing: "Come with me, I haven't had it in ages."
On a separate occasion Butt and Ahmed took two girls for a drive, the court heard.

While Butt took one away, Ahmed got the victim left in the car to perform oral sex. The prosecution said this was deliberate and forms one of the charges Butt faces of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence.

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