Rochdale sex abuse: Police apologise for failures as five men are sentenced for exploitation of 15-year-old girl

One offender was first interviewed in 2008 over rape claims but was released without charge

Five men will be sentenced today for sexually exploiting the “profound vulnerability” of a 15-year-old girl in Rochdale.

Following their convictions, police apologised to the victim for failings in their initial probe into the defendants.

Many of her abusers plied her with vodka and cannabis before committing their offences, which took place in 2008 and 2009, Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard.

The majority of the defendants were only arrested last year after the grim portrayal of a largely Pakistani heritage child sex ring preying on white girls in the town emerged into the public domain in a separate trial at Liverpool Crown Court which attracted huge publicity.

But one of the offenders, Congolese refugee Freddie Kendakumana, was first arrested and interviewed by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) in December 2008 after the girl - also white - complained to police that he had raped her the month before.

The girl was told at the time by an interviewing male officer that it was important not to have any future dealings with Kendakumana while the investigation continued but she later confessed that she had bumped into him at a flat. Soon afterwards, she went on to have consensual sex with his friend when still aged 15, although that man knew she was under-age.

The investigation against Kendakamuna, 27, was dropped before he was rearrested years later and finally charged, along with his co-defendants, in October 2012 - nearly four years after the girl made the initial complaint as several men went on to abuse her in the intervening period.

By that time the girl had undergone numerous video-recorded police interviews from the end of 2008 to October 2011, totalling more than 23 hours.

Following the convictions, Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley, of Greater Manchester Police, said: “We must acknowledge that there were some failings with the initial investigation carried out by Rochdale division into a complaint of rape by the victim in 2008.

“The suspect was arrested on suspicion of rape, but he was released without charge. The case was investigated and the officer who supervised the investigation took the decision to discontinue the case.

“In 2009 the victim in this case made a number of disclosures to the police about some of the defendants in this case.

“A decision was made to file the information gathered during this interview as intelligence and the decision was supported by the officer's line manager.”

A review of the probe by GMP's sexual crime unit highlighted a number of failings, Ms Copley added.

The matter was referred to its Professional Standards Branch in March 2011 and “formal management action” was given to two officers.

The investigation has also been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The victim was first prompted to go to the police in 2008 on the advice of a health support worker when she disclosed that Kendakumana was sexually forcing himself on her.

But social care and health professionals dealing with the youngster failed to pass on her other confessions in 2008 and 2009 that she was having consensual sexual contact with a string of older men whom she labelled “boyfriends”.

The victim, now aged 20, gave evidence against the five defendants in two trials earlier this year.

Kendakumana, of Illminster, Rochdale, was convicted of rape and sexual activity with a child. He was cleared of a second count of rape.

Two other men, Mohammed Rafiq Abubaker, 25, of Freehold, Rochdale, and takeaway worker Roheez Khan, 27, of Ashfield Road, Rochdale, were found guilty of sexual activity with a child. Khan was also convicted of witness intimidation.

A fourth man, Chola Chansa, 33, of Illminster, Rochdale, pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a child.

Taxi driver Abdul Huk, 37, of Ouldfield Close, Rochdale, was found guilty of sexual activity with a child.

The defendants come from a range of nationalities - Kendakumana and Chansa are from Congo, Abubaker is a Kurd, while Huk and Khan are believed to be of Pakistani heritage.

Several knew each other but it was not the prosecution case that they all acted in an organised manner.

PA

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on