Police paid convicted child rapist almost £10,000 to spy on 'sex parties' as part of Newcastle grooming investigation

Informant employed to spy on grooming gang abusing vulnerable girls and young women

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday 09 August 2017 15:53
Newcastle convictions: 'The idea of the police paying a child rapist may appear morally repugnant'

Police paid a convicted child rapist almost £10,000 to spy on “sex parties” as part of an investigation into a grooming gang in north-east England, it has emerged.

Details of the operation can be revealed after 17 men and one woman were convicted of abusing underage girls and vulnerable young women between 2010 and 2014.

More than 700 victims have been identified in the investigation code-named Operation Sanctuary, which bears similarities to the grooming scandals in Rotherham and Rochdale.

Trials have been underway since 2015 but can now be reported for the first time after reporting restrictions were lifted.

The men, mostly aged in their 30s and 40s and from Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi backgrounds, were found guilty of offences including rape, sexual assaults, drug crimes and trafficking for sexual exploitation at a series of trials at Newcastle Crown Court.

The 13 victims of sexual offences, whose ages ranged from 15 to their early 20s, were abused at specially-convened “parties” where they were supplied with drugs and alcohol, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

Defence lawyers for 10 defendants attempted to have their cases thrown out of court because of the employment of a child rapist known as XY in proceedings as an informant in Operation Shelter.

Newcastle convictions: 'The idea of the police paying a child rapist may appear morally repugnant'

He was recruited despite being convicted years before for drugging an underage girl and then inviting another man to rape her, a court heard.

Defending barristers argued that the public’s confidence in the justice system would be undermined if the trials went ahead using intelligence from XY, with lawyer Robin Patton saying he was paid £9,680 over 21 months by Northumbria Police.

Describing him as a “convicted child rapist who drugged a child and invited someone else to rape her after he had”, he said XY was subject to a suspended sentence when he was deployed by police in 2014.

Mr Patton said police claimed they carried out a risk assessment, but that the “very next day” after he was recruited, XY was in court for failing to tell police he had moved house – one of the conditions imposed as a registered sex offender.

“I have tried to think of convictions that make him less suitable to act as a Covert Human Intelligence Source in an operation of this sort ... I have not been able to,” Mr Patton added.

XY was later arrested in September 2015 on suspicion of inciting sexual activity with a child after a teenage girl claimed a man approached her and made an indecent proposition, but was told he would face no action.

David Hislop QC, representing a defendant, said XY had 13 previous convictions, including 26 offences of dishonesty.

During the legal submissions, the informant claimed he acted as an informal taxi driver for some defendants and made a series of lurid allegations against the police, including claims of racism and that he was asked to plant drugs.

Giving evidence from behind a screen, and with the public gallery cleared to protect his identity, XY said he had been a paid informant for six or seven years.

He told an abuse of process hearing that police tasked him “to find out what was going on in the area, when parties were taking place, where there was criminal activity”.

“There were certain individuals they were very interested in, which I was close to,” he said.

XY claimed he “believed he was doing good” and “enjoyed it”, saying he was handed a list of suspects of Asian descent by the police.

He said he was given money and promised “texts” to gain a more lenient sentence if he came before the court in exchange for the information, which he said was partly gained by listening in on private legal meetings between defendants and their lawyers.

Judge Penny Moreland turned down an application to have cases against some defendants thrown out over the alleged abuse of process.

Top-bottom, left to right: Eisa Mousavi, Yassar Hussain, Taherul Alam, Redwan Siddquee

But she rejected XY’s evidence in its entirety, telling the court: “I do not regard myself as bound to act on evidence which is so inherently unreliable, so lacking in credibility and in my view so clearly dishonest.”

XY admitted attending the “parties” but said he left early and Judge Moreland found no evidence that he was guilty of any sexual misconduct towards any complainants.

He was recruited as part of grooming investigation Operation Shelter, which was part of a wider investigation into sexual exploitation called Operation Sanctuary.

Jon Brown, of the NSPCC, said the children’s charity was “appalled” to learn a former child rapist was deliberately placed among vulnerable girls.

“It beggars belief that it would ever have been considered, let alone approved, and serious questions must be asked about the force’s approach to child sexual exploitation operations,” he added.

“However good the force’s intentions, their misguided actions run entirely counter to all current child protection procedures and what we know about sex offenders and could have compromised this investigation.”

The head of Northumbria Police said that although the decision to recruit XY would seem “morally repugnant to some”, he would do the same again to gather vital evidence on defendants who were later convicted.

Courts heard girls were groomed by men who gave them cannabis, alcohol and speed-like mephedrone at parties, then encouraged into having sex.

Juries at five separate trials related to the case heard how the men would often threaten their victims with violence if they did not take part in sexual activity with them, while others were assaulted when they were incapacitated and unable to resist.

Jim Hope, from the CPS, said the gang “systematically groomed and abused vulnerable teenage girls and young women for their own sexual gratification”.

“These prosecutions would not have been possible without the bravery shown by the victims and the courage they showed in giving their evidence of what had happened to them,” he added.

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“The impact of the abuse these young women suffered has been profound but I hope these convictions can offer them some comfort and help them move forward.”

Several members of the gang have already been jailed and the remaining defendants are expected to be sentenced in September.

More than 700 victims were identified in Operation Sanctuary and 108 in the smaller Operation Shelter, Newcastle City Council said.

The scale of abuse uncovered, and the fact one of the victims was in local authority care, has prompted a serious case review that will report in December on “what lessons can be learned and how to improve safeguarding”.

The probe was launched in 2014 just weeks after a woman and a girl, who did not know each other, reported similar accounts of abuse taking place in the West End of Newcastle.

The police and the council brought together a team of social workers, police officers and specialists for the case, which has also seen 25 taxi drivers’ licences suspended or revoked, licensing applications being screened by the police and taxi drivers, door staff and housing inspectors trained to spot exploitation.

The chief executive of Newcastle City Council, Pat Ritchie, said: “We do not believe that what we have uncovered in Newcastle is unique.

“Sadly, there is evidence of sexual exploitation in just about every other town and city in the country and anyone who says they do not have it are not looking for it.”

Steve Ashman said the sexual exploitation of vulnerable people is ‘the challenge of our generation’

Chief Constable Steve Ashman, of Northumbria Police, said there was no “political correctness” involved in the investigation of suspects from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Albania and Eastern European.

“It is for individual communities to ask themselves whether they are doing all they can to eradicate such attitudes and behaviour,” he added.

“The sexual exploitation of vulnerable people is in my opinion the challenge of our generation.”

The Crown Prosecution Service released the names and ages of the people convicted as part of Operation Shelter. They were:

  • Nashir Uddin, 35, pleaded guilty to three counts of drug possession and four counts of drug supply. He was convicted of one count of sexual assault, one count of allowing a premises to be used for drug supply and one count of conspiracy to incite prostitution for gain. He is awaiting sentence
  • Saiful Islam, 35, was convicted of one count of rape and sentenced to 10 years in prison
  • Yasser Hussain, 28, was convicted of one count of allowing a premises to be used for drug supply, one count of assault by beating, one count of intimidation and one count of conspiracy to incite prostitution for gain. He was sentenced to two years in prison
  • Mohammed Azram, 35, pleaded guilty to five charges of drug supply and was convicted of one sexual assault, plus one count of conspiracy to incite prostitution for gain. He is awaiting sentence
  • Jahangir Zaman, 44, was convicted of one count of drug supply, one count of rape and one count of conspiracy to incite prostitution for gain. He is awaiting sentence. Separately convicted of two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs as part of Operation Emerald
  • Mohammed Hassan Ali, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of drug supply. He was convicted of two counts of sexual activity with a child and one count of drug possession with intent to supply, and jailed for seven years
  • Badrul Hussain, 37, was convicted of three counts of drug supply and three counts of allowing a premises to be used for the supply of drugs. He is awaiting sentence
  • Abdul Sabe, age 40, pleaded guilty to one count of drug possession. He was convicted of one count of conspiring to sexually assault, one count of trafficking for sexual exploitation, two counts of drug supply and one count of conspiring to incite prostitution for gain. He is awaiting sentence
  • Mohibur Rahman, 44, pleaded guilty to two counts of drug supply and two counts of allowing a premises to be used for the supply of drugs. He is awaiting sentence
  • Habibur Rahim, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of drug supply and one count of conspiracy to incite prostitution. He was convicted of one count of rape, six counts of drug supply, three counts of trafficking for sexual exploitation, one count of human trafficking and two counts of conspiring to incite prostitution for gain. He is awaiting sentence
  • Carol Ann Gallon, 22, pleaded guilty to three counts of trafficking and is awaiting sentence
  • Abdulhamid Minoyee, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of drug supply and was convicted of one count of rape and one count of sexual assault. He is awaiting sentence
  • Taherul Alam, 32, was convicted of two counts of drug supply, one count of attempted sexual assault, one count of allowing a premises to be used for the supply of drugs and one count of conspiracy to incite prostitution. He is awaiting sentence
  • Monjur Choudhury, 33, was convicted of one count of drug supply, one count of allowing a premises to be used for the supply of drugs and one count of conspiracy to incite prostitution. He is awaiting sentence
  • Nadeem Aslam, 43, pleaded guilty to one count of drug possession. He was convicted of two counts of drug supply, one count of drug possession and one count of allowing a premises to be used for the supply of drugs. He is awaiting sentence. Separately convicted of two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs as part of Operation Emerald
  • Prabhat Nelli, 33, was convicted of two counts of drug supply and one count of conspiracy to incite prostitution. He is awaiting sentence
  • Eisa Mousavi, 42, was convicted of three counts of rape, two counts of drug supply, one count of allowing a premises to be used for the supply of drugs and one count of conspiracy to incite prostitution. He is awaiting sentence
  • Redwan Siddique, 32, pleaded guilty before trial to one count of drug supply and was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

Additional reporting by PA

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