Three men have been jailed for their part in an inner-city sex ring involving the abuse, rape and trafficking of young girls.
Victims as young as 14 were subjected to sexual abuse that was “degrading, violent and horrible” in Bristol. Some of the girls were given drugs and alcohol and “pestered again and again” for sex by the men, who were mostly older teenagers.
Bristol crown court heard that the rapes became “routine” and the men regarded some of the victims, who cannot be named, as “cheap and easy”.
Three men – Sakariya Sheikh, 23, Mohammed Dahir, 24, and Abdirashid Abdulahi, 23 – were convicted of 14 charges relating to four girls.
Judge Peter Blair QC jailed Sheikh for 16 years, and Dahir and Abdulahi both for eight years, after a seven-week trial. “You have brought shame upon your families and upon yourselves,” the judge told them. “You are not worthy of very much further attention in this courtroom. My attention is focused upon the victims of your crimes.
“They were four children trying to find their way in life, some of them struggling with difficult issues at home. You used your older age, your personal freedom and your relative stronger power to manipulate and coerce them into becoming for you little more than objects to satisfy you sexually.”
The judge said the abuse had left the victims feeling “worthless”.
“Their pain goes on and so it will for you now,” he told the defendants. “They are at long last receiving some measure of justice from your convictions. Their very brave and difficult decision to give evidence against you has been vindicated and I pay tribute to them.”
Seven men went on trial accused of 46 charges. Three were acquitted after the jury failed to reach verdicts and another man was found not guilty of the two charges against him.
The trial, which came after an investigation codenamed Operation Button, was the third in a series of prosecutions of Somali men for child sexual exploitation and drug offences.
In two earlier trials in 2014, after an investigation codenamed Operation Brooke, 14 men were jailed for more than 100 years between them. Sheikh, Abdulahi and Dahir – were also found guilty in Operation Brooke.
During the latest trial, jurors heard that a 15-year-old girl was simultaneously raped by Sheikh and another man in March 2013. The majority of the offences happened between 2011 and 2012 against girls who had travelled to Bristol by train to meet the men.
Anna Vigars, prosecuting, said the victims “suffered sexual abuse, some of it violent, degrading and horrible, some of it less so”.
Speaking after the case, DS Lisa Jones, of Avon and Somerset police, said the offences had inflicted “long-term pain and torment” on the victims.
“These defendants befriended these vulnerable young people who were still at school, grooming and sexually exploiting them,” she said. “Their systematic abuse over a number of years slowly eroded their confidence and made them think these crimes were normal behaviour.”
In a statement issued through police, the Bristol Somali community said it was “deeply appalled” by the case. “Our deepest sympathy wholeheartedly goes out to the victims and their families who are undoubtedly experiencing extreme pain at the moment,” it said. “Our community, a Muslim and black minority ethnic community, in Bristol would like to underline that we sincerely condemn the nature of these crimes.”
QotD: “Three men jailed over Bristol child abuse ring”