Three men have been arrested by police investigating a paedophile ring which led to vulnerable schoolgirls being drugged, raped and sold into prostitution.
The three, aged 81, 49 and 48, were detained after officers executed a warrant at Nanford guest house in Iffley Road, Oxford, in connection with Operation Bullfinch. They were held on suspicion of “being a landlord letting a premise for use as a brothel, causing or inciting child prostitution for gain and encouraging or assisting in an offence believing it will be committed, namely rape and causing child prostitution”.
Seven members of a paedophile ring are facing long jail terms after being found guilty at the Old Bailey last month of a catalogue of offences including conspiracy to rape, child prostitution and trafficking over an eight-year period.
A Thames Valley police spokesman said: “The warrant is in relation to information that came to light during the recent trial at the Old Bailey, where evidence was heard that the guest house had been used to facilitate child sexual exploitation.”
The warrant was executed at the guest house under section 8 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.
Officers also executed another warrant at a property in Sunningwell Road, Sunningwell, near Oxford, police added.
Last month, two sets of brothers, Akhtar Dogar, 32, and Anjum Dogar, 31, and Mohammed Karrar, 38, and Bassam Karrar, 33, were convicted with Kamar Jamil, 27, Assad Hussain, 32, and Zeeshan Ahmed, 27. They will be sentenced on 26 June.
Two other defendants – Mohammed Hussain, 25, and a man who cannot be named for legal reasons – were cleared.
At the end of the harrowing case, police and social workers apologised to the victims for failing to rescue them as it emerged that officers had missed several chances to catch gang members. During the four-month trial, some victims described how they were groomed, beaten, betrayed and sold into prostitution around the country.
One was still so frightened of her attackers that she refused to give evidence for fear of reprisals. It was only after she was given legal advice that Girl D agreed to tell her story on a videolink from another room in the building.
She had been raped and prostituted at 11 by Mohammed Karrar, who bought her gifts and showed her the first affection she had known.
Another victim, Girl A, complained of her plight to police on two occasions but no one was charged. A care home manager refused to pay her taxi fare when she returned after absconding. The then 14-year-old was driven back to Oxford to be raped. The carer was later sacked and the privately run home where girls were placed by Oxford County Council was closed down.
The girls had been put into care because their behaviour was out of control and for their own protection. Time after time, they disappeared from children’s homes and were caught with older men by police, but the exploitation continued.
The six girls said they had been victims of men while aged between 11 and 15.
The gang were finally arrested after police and social services got together to form Operation Bullfinch. By speaking to complainants and looking at their histories, they realised they were dealing with an organised grooming gang.
Girls were either threatened that they or their families would be harmed, or brainwashed into thinking they were betraying their lover if they talked to police.
The trial followed the jailing last year of men in Rochdale for abusing vulnerable girls, another case where chances to stop the gang were missed.
Earlier this year the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Crown Prosecution Service announced new measures to improve their response to sexual offending, particularly involving children.