Wednesday, 15 June 2011
The criminal charges faced by the nine men in the dock were the result of a police investigation called Operation Chalice, jurors were told.

Detectives launched the inquiry “because of concerns raised by teachers, parents and other adults about the sexual abuse and exploitation of teenage girls in the Wellington area of Telford between 2007 and 2009”.

Deborah Gould, for the prosecution, said that some of the victims had spoken about what was happening to adults they trusted, including social workers, healthcare workers and in some cases their parents.

The parents of one 14-year-old girl had reported her missing on a number of occasions over a six-month period from November 2006 after she began to disappear from the family home overnight.

She started to spend time in a churchyard that was “a bit of a meeting place for young Asian males who would sit around and drink and smoke there”. There were concerns that the girl was becoming involved with alcohol and drugs. She was also skipping school and dressing “inappropriately”.

Police became involved with the girl’s family in May 2008 at the request of her parents, who were finding her worsening behaviour problematic and “deeply worrying”.

The girl’s mother was so concerned about her daughter that “at every opportunity she got she would get access to her daughter’s mobile telephone, and she made a list of the numbers that were stored on it, called by it or called to it”.

The mother gave the list of numbers, which included a phone attributable to Ahdel Ali, one of the men accused of acting as her daughter’s pimp, to the police.

In September of that year, after the teenage girl returned home at 3.35am, her father looked at her mobile phone and found a text that read “Night night babe”. It had been sent to her by Mubarek Ali, then aged 25, Ahdel’s brother, who is also accused of selling her for sex.

The girl’s father contacted the police and the brothers were issued with child abduction notices, warning them not to have any contact with the girl because her parents, as her legal guardians, did not permit it.

Miss Gould said that the warning notices had no effect on Mubarek Ali. The man and the girl “continued to see each other regardless”.

In an attempt to help the girl by removing her to a different environment, a decision was taken by social services to place her in a flat in Stafford, Miss Gould added. The teenager’s parents visited her daily “to ensure that she was all right”.

They found that she “wasn’t eating properly, cleaning the flat or looking after herself”. The girl was also still in touch with the men who were allegedly exploiting her because “mobile phones and cars mean that contact can be continued despite geographical distance”.
In 2009, the girl returned to live with her parents. In May of that year she went missing for several days. When police examined her mobile phone they discovered that her contacts included phone numbers for five of the men now on trial.

The girl was one of seven teenagers, aged from 13 to 17, who are the alleged victims of sexual exploitation offences said to have been committed by the nine defendants.

Miss Gould said: “Eventually, in December 2009, the police arrested most of these defendants and shortly afterwards, assisted by specially trained social workers, spoke to the girls to determine exactly what was going on and to ascertain whether offences were being committed.

“You will hear and see what happened when the girls were spoken to because this took the form of visually recorded interviews and they will be played to you during the trial.”

Source: The Times (£)

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