- Married businessman Mohammed Khubaib convicted of raping girl, 14
- Also guilty of trafficking girls as young as 12 over more than two years
- Co-defendant cleared of raping 16-year-old and seven trafficking charges
- Conviction part of Cambridgeshire Police's probe into child sex offences
A restaurant boss is facing a lengthy jail sentence after he became the last of a string of men to be convicted of child sex offences against girls in Peterborough.
Mohammed Khubaib, originally from Pakistan, befriended girls and then ‘hooked’ them with alcohol - normally vodka - in an attempt to make them ‘compliant’ to sexual advances.
The 43-year-old married businessman, who lived in the city with his wife and children, would pursue his interest ‘away from his home and family’, using his restaurant as a ‘focal point’.
Convicted: Married businessman Mohammed Khubaib, originally from Pakistan, had a ‘persistent and almost predatory interest’ in teenage girls
Khubaib - who was convicted of the charges against him by a jury at the Old Bailey in five hours - had a ‘persistent and almost predatory interest’ in teenage girls, the trial heard.
The father of five groomed vulnerable under-age girls by giving them money, gifts or cigarettes before plying them with alcohol.
Following a trial he was found guilty of forcing a 14-year-old girl to perform a sex act on him and nine counts of trafficking for sexual exploitation involving girls aged from 12 to 15 between November 2010 and January 2013.
His South African friend Manase Motaung, 32, was cleared of raping a 16-year-old and seven trafficking charges, involving six girls.
Khubaib's conviction brings the total number of people to be convicted under Operation Erle to ten, of which five are of Pakistani origin.
Khubaib was remanded in custody and warned he faces a long spell behind bars when he is sentenced on May 15.
Judge Peter Rook QC told him he had been convicted 'of a very serious offence of a rape on a young girl... having plied her with vodka'.
He added: ‘You have also been convicted of no less than nine trafficking offences in relation to under-age girls who you were deliberately plying with vodka so that you could take advantage of them, knowing they craved vodka so you could exploit them sexually.
THE OTHER NINE MEN FOUND GUILTY OF SEX OFFENCES IN OPERATION ERLE
‘You must know the only sentence is a custodial sentence - and a long sentence.’
The jury was deliberating for less than a day before it reached its verdicts.
Four previous cases led to nine male defendants being jailed for 59 offences against 15 girls, from Peterborough, with a couple from Lincolnshire and Rutland.
Mark Dennis QC, prosecuting, said the girls were vulnerable because of their age, background, circumstances or unsettled schooling and Khubaib pretended to be their ‘friend and helper’.
Khubaib, who also ran a lettings agency, would drive girls to flats in his 4x4 and, once there, they would be groomed for sex by being ‘plied with alcohol and entertained by himself and his friends’.
Khubaib raped a 14-year-old girl in August 2007 by forcing her to perform oral sex on him after she was given alcohol and then ‘rewarded’ with £5, the court heard.
The jury heard details of the trafficking allegations.
Khubaib would buy one girl and her friends McDonald's meals and tobacco, as well as giving her small sums of money and a £40 bunch of flowers for her 15th birthday, the court heard.
He told the girl he wanted her to be his wife, saying that he would ‘choose her over everyone else’, while he told another 15-year-old she had beautiful eyes, the jury was told.
When she rebuffed him, saying he was too old for her, he was said to have replied: ‘Age doesn't matter.’
Khubaib allegedly offered another girl £60, telling her: ‘You make me happy, I'll give you money.’
Two weeks later he allegedly increased the offer to £90. The girl refused.
In January 2013, Khubaib picked up two friends - one aged 12 and the other aged 14 - in his seven-seater car and took them to a McDonald's, Mr Dennis said.
The girls became uncomfortable when Khubaib got into a row on his phone and slipped away.
Later that month, the defendants were arrested at a terrace house in Peterborough, where police found two girls aged 14.
Khubaib said in police interviews that his association with all of the girls was innocent and he had not acted in any improper way, denying any sexual contact with the girl he is said to have raped.
Motaung also denied wrongdoing by saying he had consensual sex with the rape complainant.
INVESTIGATION IN CAMBRIDGESHIRE TRIGGERED AFTER ROTHERHAM & ROCHDALE CHILD ABUSE CASES
The two defendants, both from Peterborough, denied the charges.
Following the verdict, Detective Superintendent Gary Ridgway, of Cambridgeshire Police, said: ‘I'm pleased with the verdicts today because not only does it acknowledge the seriousness of this behaviour but also the courage of the young people who were able to face their abuser in court.’
He added that the investigation was more than two years old, and ‘I do not underestimate the impact on some of the young people involved’.
Cambridgeshire Police and Peterborough City Council launched a ‘victim-led’ inquiry after identifying a number of young people who might have been at risk of sexual exploitation towards the end of 2012.
The joint investigation was proactively initiated in response to the Rotherham and Rochdale child abuse cases.
A police spokesman said: ‘We have made great efforts to safeguard these young people, win their confidence and explore what they told us.
'As a result of the information given to us, we launched a number of investigations. A police investigation formally began in early January 2013.’
A number of the victims were in care at the time and had problems at home and school while the abusers' ethnicity reflected the local demographic - Portuguese and eastern European, as well as Asian/Pakistani men.
How courage of teenage victim 'kick-started' police investigation into restaurant boss who groomed underage girls
Khubaib's activities involved girls being befriended and then ‘hooked’ with alcohol in an attempt to make them ‘compliant’ to sexual advances
A mother has spoken of her pride after her teenage daughter ‘kick-started’ the police investigation into Khubaib.
The teenager was targeted by him when she was just 14 in Peterborough.
She saw him three times, but grew scared when he had an argument over the phone after taking her to McDonald's and decided to tell her parents, who took her to the police.
Khubaib, 43, did not touch her - but had a ‘persistent and almost predatory interest’ in teenage girls, the Old Bailey heard.
The girl's mother said the youngster found giving evidence at his trial ‘worse than she expected’ after her father broke down in tears when she went into the courtroom.
She said: ‘We keep telling her how proud we are. At one point she got very depressed and kept saying "I'm stupid, I'm silly". But we told her that, at the end of the day, she has helped so many girls.
‘Luckily, nothing happened to her and she saw sense before it got any further - but she has helped so many girls and she should feel proud of that.
‘There are many girls out there, even though they don't know her, they are going to be thanking her.’
The woman said that the pressure of taking the matter to police had had a ‘big impact’ on her daughter.
She explained that before meeting Khubaib, the girl was an outgoing tomboy who enjoyed being out with her friends and going to school.
She said: ‘After she told me and her father what had happened and we had gone to the police, she became a hermit.'