Oxford sex ring trial begins

The prosecution has opened its case at the Old Bailey against nine men, aged between 24 and 38, accused of sexually exploiting six under-age girls in the Oxford area.

The trial may take three months according to Judge Peter Rook, who has sworn in a jury of seven men and five women, telling them that emotion should not play a part in their deliberation.

The men were arrested as part of Thames Valley Police’s Operation Bullfinch, which saw 14 addresses raided across Oxford last March in an investigation headed by Detective Inspector Simon Morton.

The court heard that the nine men accused of sexually abusing young girls in Oxford “ensured girls were guarded so that they could not escape”.

The charges, spanning a period from 2004 to January of last year, relate to offences that are alleged to have been committed against girls aged between 11 and 16. They took 30 minutes to be read out in court.

Jurors at the Old Bailey were told that one alleged victim, who cannot be named, was “sold” to Mohammed Karrar at 11 to “cure her bad attitude”, then repeatedly raped by him and his brother, Bassam Karrar. 

The court was told that Mohammed Karrar charged other men £400 to £600 to rape the girl, now in her 20s, in a way she described as “torture” until she was 15. She also claimed to be injected with heroin.

After being impregnated by a member of the group at age 12, the court heard that Mohammed Karrar arranged for her to have an illegal abortion in a back-room in Reading. The girl claims she was also beaten for falling pregnant.

Jurors were also told that on one occasion Karrar heated a hair pin with a lighter and branded the girl’s buttock with the the letter M as he claimed to “own her”. The court heard she began self-harming and described her life as a “living hell”.

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Noel Lucas QC, acting for the prosecution, opened the case at the Old Bailey on Tuesday, telling the court, “The evidence will show that these men, sometimes acting in groups and at other times separately, targeted vulnerable young girls between the ages of 11 and 12 and up to 15.

“The attention lavished on the girls at the outset was of course entirely insincere as it was merely a device to exploit their vulnerability.”

Mr Lucas told the court the defendants plied the girls with alcohol and introduced them to drugs, including cannabis, cocaine and heroin, until they became addicted and therefore dependent on their abusers.

He said, “It was in these ways the men came to exercise control over the girls who, because of their previous experiences and disturbed home lives, were likely to subject themselves to sexual exploitation and abuse.

“The depravity, and I use that word with care, of what was done to the complainants was extreme. The facts in this case will make you feel uncomfortable.

“Between acts of abuse sometimes stretching over days, the Oxford men ensured girls were guarded so that they could not escape.”

Of the 12-year-old victim, he said, “This brief summary of the very extensive and persistent abuse [the girl] suffered at the hands of Mohammed Karrar illustrates his view of her as something to be used and abused at will. If she had the courage to resist, he beat her. He branded her to make her his property and to ensure others knew it.”

Mr Lucas continued, “She frequently caught chlamydia. She was often covered in bruises and burns where the men had stubbed her with cigarettes.”

“If she refused to go they would threaten her, saying they would burn her house down and her brother would be burnt alive.”

A second alleged victim, 14, was reportedly attacked, beaten and raped by Bassam Kassar before a neighbour called the police. Officers found her “extremely distressed, crying and shaking”, before she told them she had been held against her will, raped and repeatedly smacked in the face. 

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She also said she had been held under a shower and injected with a drug, but later dropped her complaint after being persuaded by another girl who was “seeing” her attacker, the court heard.

Jurors were told that another 14-year-old girl was burned with a lighter and threatened  if she refused to have sex with the men after meeting defendants Kamar Jamil, Anjum Dojar and Ahktar Dojar whilst living in a children’s home.

Mr Lucas told the court how she drank and took drugs “to the point of passing out because she knew what was expected of her”. He also said that the girl told a friend, “I have no choice. I just want to be loved. I’ve never been loved and this shows me love”.

The defendants, eight from Oxford and one from Berkshire, face 51 counts including rape, trafficking and organising prostitution between 2004 and 2012. They deny the charges, which relate to girls aged between 11 and 16.

The trial is expected to last until April. Defendants Kamar Jamil, Akhtar Dogar, Assad Hussain, Mohammed Karrar, Bassam Karrar, Mohammed Hussain, Zeeshan Ahmed, and Bidal Ahmed are all in custody.