Woman identified men accused in Telford child sex abuse case up to 17 years later

A woman who alleges she was sexually abused by a group of men when she was a schoolgirl in Telford picked out five suspects at photo-based identification parades up to 17 years later, a court has heard.

The case is being heard at Birmingham Crown Court
The case is being heard at Birmingham Crown Court

A trial at Birmingham Crown Court was told the complainant picked out five defendants who are standing trial accused of committing offences against her in the Telford area.

On the fourth day of the trial, West Mercia Police identification officer John Branford told jurors the woman had said the men she picked out were responsible for attacking her in about 2002 at various locations, including a churchyard in Wellington.

Answering questions from prosecutor Michelle Heeley QC, Mr Branford said the complainant had identified the men as having committed offences against her – and told him she had seen an image of defendant Mohammed Ali Sultan in a media report of a “sex ring” years previously.

The court heard the woman initially identified an unconnected male as defendant Nazam Akhtar – but later correctly identified a picture of him.

During cross-examination of Mr Branford, defence counsel Victoria Meads asked whether any thought had been given to the fact that appearances may have “been a lot different” up to 17 years ago.

Mr Branford, who supervised the parades beginning in 2018, answered: “Yes, consideration was given to that. In fairness, when solicitors came to the police station it was a matter of discussion. The law allows for us to use a current image, an older image or both sets of images.”

The prosecution have said the girl was sexually exploited and “passed around like a piece of meat” until she was in her mid-teens.

Opening the case on Monday, Ms Heeley said the complainant was sold for sex, first by a man named Tanveer Ahmed, who “befriended her” during a low point in her life.

The case so far:

Jurors heard that Ahmed, who made takeaway deliveries for a pizza business, is not on trial alongside the other defendants, having been deported to Pakistan for “unrelated offences”.

Ali Sultan, 33, formerly of Telford, denies two charges of rape and three of indecent assault. The jury was told that he has convictions for “similar offences against young girls”.

Amjad Hussain, 38, of Acacia Drive, Leegomery, Telford, denies indecent assault.

Shafiq Younas, 35, of Regent Street, Wellington, Telford, denies orally raping the complainant.

Akhtar, 35, of Victoria Avenue, Wellington, denies rape, while co-defendant Mohammad Rizwan, 37, of Mafeking Road, Telford, has pleaded not guilty to two charges of indecent assault.

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