Rotherham sexual abuse: Five men jailed as judge hits out at 'ineffectual' authorities

Five men have been jailed for sexually abusing vulnerable girls in Rotherham - as a judge criticised "ineffectual" authorities for failing to protect the victims.

The girls, who were plied with alcohol and drugs and threatened with violence, were deliberately targeted for the sole purpose of becoming "sexual objects" for the defendants, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

Judge Michael Slater described one of the convicted men, Abid Saddiq, as a "cunning and determined sexual predator", while one victim told the court: "They took my childhood away".

Following a trial at Sheffield Crown Court:

Malik was told that his sentence will follow on from a 15-year term he is already serving for similar offences.

Friday's sentencing related to the abuse of seven girls who were all under the age of 16 between 1998 and 2002 in Rotherham and the surrounding areas, the NCA said.

During the five-week trial, the jury heard that girls were targeted due to their vulnerability and were given alcohol and drugs before some were raped by multiple men.

Another man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was also found guilty of offences in the case, while Mohammed Ashan pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent assault at a previous hearing.

Both men will be sentenced at a later date.

Judge Slater said that, after sitting through the trial, he was "quite satisfied" that the "relevant authorities" were well aware of the way vulnerable teenagers in the South Yorkshire town were being targeted for sexual exploitation.

The judge described this as a "lamentable state of affairs", saying the authorities at the time were at best "totally ineffectual" and, at worst "wholly indifferent".

Friday's sentencing followed the latest trial to arise out of Operation Stovewood - the massive National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation into the sexual exploitation of teenagers in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

A total of 20 men have now been convicted as a result of Operation Stovewood and the NCA has said it believes 1,510 people were victims in the town.

Judge Slater praised the victims mentioned in Friday's hearing, saying: "Nothing I can say to you can restore those childhoods of which you were so cruelly deprived by the actions of these defendants and others."

He added he was "particularly concerned" to hear a number of victims "expressed feelings of shame, guilt and self-loathing in relation to what happened to her and by extension to her family".

The judge said the women should instead be praised for the "incredible resolve and bravery" they each showed to bring the men to justice and how they "stood up to ensure that what happened to her should never happened to young girls in the future".

The NCA was brought in following the Jay Report which shocked the nation in 2014 when it outlined the scale of the offending against children in the town.

The agency now has more than 200 people working on Operation Stovewood, which had a budget last year of just under £12m, and is looking to increase this as it works towards recruiting a total of 250 staff.

The NCA said it has now engaged with 313 victims and survivors in the town and has identified 190 suspects.