16 November 2017
Three men have been found guilty of indecently assaulting a girl under the age of 14 following the first trial under Operation Stovewood.
Riaz Makhmood (39), Sajid Ali (38) and Zaheer Iqbal (39), all from Masbrough in Rotherham, were convicted of 15 charges against the victim who was twelve and thirteen at the time of the abuse, which took place in 1994 and 1995.
Pictured left to right - Makhmood, Ali, Iqbal
All three were arrested in July 2016 after the victim, who is now in her thirties, came forward to South Yorkshire Police. She explained how she and friends would be given alcohol and sexually assaulted in car parks or behind shops in Masbrough.
South Yorkshire Police passed the information to the National Crime Agency (NCA) for further investigation under Operation Stovewood and the men were convicted today at Sheffield Crown Court.
Makhmood was sentenced to six years and nine months, and Ali and Iqbal were given seven and a half years each.
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 began 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.
Operation Stovewood is investigating allegations of child sexual exploitation and abuse between 1997 and 2013. Under the Memorandum of Understanding with South Yorkshire Police, if there are allegations of abuse that fall outside of this time frame, but are linked to cases under investigation by the NCA, they will also be taken forward by the operational team.