Six men who sexually abused vulnerable young girls in parks have been sentenced to a total of 31 years and nine months in prison.
They were found guilty by an Oxford jury in March following an eight-week trial relating to offences including sexual activity with a child, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, rape, sexual assault and assault by penetration.
Locations where the offences took place included King’s Sutton Memorial Hall car park as well as People’s Park, Spiceball Park and Princess Diana Park – which are in Banbury.
Sentenced on Friday were:
> Ahmed Hassan-Sule, 21, of Glyndebourne Gardens, Banbury to nine years in prison with five years on licence.
> Takudzwa Hova, 21, of Broughton Road, Banbury to six years with four years on licence.
> Kagiso Manase, 21, of Warwick Road, Banbury to four years.
> Mohamad Saleh, 22, of Orchard Way, Banbury to four years and nine months.
> Said Saleh, 20, of Orchard Way, Banbury to four years in a young offender institute.
> Zsolt Szalontai, 18, of Portway, Banbury to three years in a young offender institute.
Manase was also sentenced to one year in prison, to run consecutively, for possession of identity documents with intent. It relates to an offence where he was found in possession or control of a false South African passport and UK resident permit.
Speaking during sentencing, Judge Zoe Smith said: “The victims’ personal statements show the devastating impact your activities have had on the lives of those girls.
“They feel betrayed. Another feared for the safety of her family when she informed the police and had to live isolated from her friends.”
During the course of the trial, Oxford Crown Court heard the group identified eight vulnerable girls aged between 13 and 16 and committed the offences in and around Banbury between 2011 and 2013.
Thames Valley Police carried out warrants to make the arrests in June 2014, as a result of Operation Reportage, led by Banbury Force CID and Oxfordshire Children’s Social Care Team through the multi-agency Kingfisher Team.
All of the defendants excluding Szalontai were charged with the offences on June 25, 2014. Szalontai was charged on July 17, 2014.
Det Insp Steve Raffield, from Banbury Force CID, said: “Today’s result would not have been possible without the bravery of the victims. I would like to thank them for coming forward and giving evidence in this case. As in all trials without their testimony we would not be where we are today.
“Operation Reportage is the culmination of many months of work by detectives. It is a child sexual exploitation prosecution in which the Kingfisher Team proactively sought to identify victims to enable them to receive support while pursing the prosecution of the adults who have exploited them.
“As a result young people will be safeguarded while these men will have time to reflect upon their actions in prison.”
Supt Kath Lowe, LPA Commander Cherwell and West Oxfordshire, said: “Child sexual exploitation is a force priority and every day officers work to identify the signs and disrupt it.
“There has been a huge emphasis on training frontline officers and staff in order for us to prevent, identify, disrupt and investigate child sexual exploitation as effectively as possible. In Oxfordshire, we have a dedicated unit, the Kingfisher team, where police officers, social workers and health and education professionals work side by side in order to safeguard children from child sexual exploitation.
“Through regular patrols by officers and police community support officers at places in the community where young people gather, we raise awareness of the dangers of a crime which has a devastating effect on victims and communities.
“If you are a victim of a sexual offence please come forward and we will listen to what you have to say, deal with reports sensitively, and provide help.”
Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: “In this case we worked closely with Thames Valley Police from early in the investigation to help build the strongest possible prosecution case. Their investigators and Crown Prosecution Service lawyers and caseworkers have worked tirelessly to bring this difficult prosecution to court.
“I hope that the verdicts and today’s sentences provide some comfort for the victims of this case and for their families, and helps them to move on and rebuild their lives. Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time.”
If you or someone you know is a victim of child sexual exploitation call the 24-hour Thames Valley Police enquiry centre on 101.
The multi-agency Kingfisher group were commended by the judge in court for all their work on the case.