After a Sunday Mirror investigation said the Telford grooming scandal could have involved 1,000 victims, dating back to the 1980s, leading to calls for a public inquiry amid claims some girls were murdered by their abusers
The terrified victim of a Telford grooming gang has previously told how she was raped by a pair of cousins in a traumatising campaign of abuse during which she was told her life would be ‘made hell’.
Former A-Level student Paula – whose real name has not been reported to protect her identity – bravely spoke about her ordeal to the Birmingham Mail in March 2015.
She recalled harrowing details of how one of her abusers broke into her home to rape her.
Paula said at first she thought the threats were ‘a joke’ but after she was raped she was “very, very scared”.
Worn down by the attacks from the depraved cousins, she fell into a cycle of abuse involving other Asian men. The details are too harrowing to recount, but she was also subject to violence including stones being thrown at her face and being beaten.
The victim later saw both of her abusers brought to justice.
Mohammed Ali Sultan, 31, was jailed for seven years after being convicted of two counts of rape and one of attempted rape of the former A Level student, who bravely went on to rebuild her life to become a nurse.
He had previously been jailed for being part of an Asian gang that had sexually exploited vulnerable youngsters in the Telford area of Shropshire. One victim of married Sultan was just 13-years-old.
A Sunday Mirror investigation said the Telford grooming scandal could have involved 1,000 victims, dating back to the 1980s.
There are now calls for a public inquiry into the child sexual exploitation gangs, with claims some girls were murdered by their abusers.
Paula told in 2015 how unemployed factory worker Ali Sultan had first abused her two days after she had been brutally raped by his cousin, Shahmeel Khan.
She later bravely gave evidence against Khan, from Wellington, to see him jailed for 10 years.
Sultan, also from Wellington, was jailed for seven years after the determined victim took the witness stand at Wolverhampton Crown Court to help convict him of the two rapes and one attempted rape. He was cleared of one rape charge.
Paula spoke to the Birmingham Mail in March 2015 about her harrowing ordeal to shine a light on the long-hidden problem of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and to offer hope to other young girls in similar terrifying situations.
“Predators can read a person, they get very good at it,’’ she said.
“Because of everything that has happened to me I can tell who is a predator, I can tell when someone is trying to chat someone up in an inappropriate way. But what experience does a 12,13,14-year-old girl have?
“What chance do they have up against a man who might have 15 years’ experience of raping and tricking and grooming girls? How on earth can a young girl be expected to get out of that situation?
“These men can see who is vulnerable.’’
Softly-spoken Paula came from a middle-class background and had been studying for her A Levels. She moved into her own flat in the Telford area in May 2007.
A friend and neighbour was being bullied by Sultan into letting him use his flat for sex sessions with girls at the time.
Before long, Paula was being targeted by Sultan and his convict cousin.
She recalled: “Sultan kept calling me when my friend wasn’t with me and trying to talk to me. I was having none of it at the time.
“He started knocking on my door, at first asking for my friend. If my friend wasn’t in, I’d say he wasn’t. He would ask if he could come in and I’d say, ‘No, you can’t. He isn’t here’.
“He started saying things like, ‘Who is in there?’ I’d say, ’No one’. It was just a trick to find out if I was on my own.
“Around the same time his cousin Shahmeel Khan got out of prison. Two weeks later, on June 17 in 2007, Shahmeel broke into my flat and raped me.’’
Convicted robber Khan returned to rape his terrified victim twice more.
It was during this terrifying period that Sultan also began abusing the traumatised teenager.
Paula said: “Two days after Shahmeel raped me, Sultan came to my flat with one of his friends and made me perform a sex act on him and his friend. That’s one of the counts of rape he was convicted of.
“I reported his friend but failed to correctly pick him out in an ID parade. I only knew his first name and only saw him that once and never saw him again.
“When I gave evidence in court I told them that when Sultan first started coming round he would be very polite.
“When I’d say no, he’d say, ‘Why not? Are we not friends?’ I couldn’t say no because I knew that as soon as I said we were not friends, he’d get aggressive with me and push his way in.
“When Sultan and his friends first used to go on about me performing sex acts I used to think it was them just joking. But after Shahmeel raped me I was very, very scared. And I realised that Sultan was not joking.
“I think I just gave up after Shahmeel raped me. When Sultan came round two days after the rape I was still in shock, still traumatised. I had no fight left in me.
“He used to say he would make my life hell and said I didn’t want to play games with him. He would say he would kick my door in and when I said ‘you won’t because of the locks’, he said ‘I will kick your head in then’.”
Worn down by the attacks from the depraved cousins, she fell into a cycle of abuse involving other Asian men.
Eventually she somehow summoned the courage to break free and went to the police, first about Khan who was jailed for 10 years in December 2011. He will not be eligible for parole until 2020 because of other sentences.
When Paula reported Mohammed Ali Sultan to police she discovered detectives were just concluding Operation Chalice, an investigation into an Asian child sexual exploitation gang.
The operation saw him jailed for seven years in November 2012 after admitting sexually abusing two underage girls, including one aged just 13.
Paula said: “I went to the police about Sultan in June 2010. I got included in Operation Chalice at the end, not in the court case, but as a victim, because I went to the police once the case had started.
“I was training at university at the time and had no idea the case was going on. It was a coincidence I went to the police while they were in the middle of investigating Operation Chalice.
“Partly because of that, they didn’t arrest Sultan for what he did to me until after Operation Chalice had finished. They had to produce him from prison, arrest him and get his statement.’’
Paula’s advice on how girls can protect themselves
1. “Try and memorise street names, door numbers, car registrations and things like that, so you can tell someone you trust where you are in case things go wrong. Always have taxi numbers available and secret money.”
2. “Always remember that you can run away. Some of my biggest regrets are when one abuser was driving me around that I just didn’t get out of the car and run off. You can run away, even though they may have manipulated you into feeling that you can’t.”
3. “If you want to say no, and they are pushing you into it, just keep saying no. Sometimes the hell you put up with for not putting out is more traumatising than having the sex. I can sit at home and remember the trauma that I went through not to have sex and I can feel proud of myself for those times.”
4. “Never give up on your parents. They might shout or get angry or not understand but that’s because they really care about you. And they are the only thing that’s always there, boyfriends come and go but your parents will love you forever. Talk to them, try to help each other. Your family are your team, they’re on your side.”
Incredibly, despite her unimaginable ordeal, Paula has managed to rebuild her life and completed a nursing degree before working for a health trust in Birmingham. She has now moved to another part of the country to be near her supportive family.
This remarkable young went on to offer practical help to other girls being groomed and abused by CSE gangs.
Paula is also determined to give advice to police and social workers who can often fail to listen to victims, forcing them back into the clutches of their abusers.
“I went to the police initially after Shahmeel raped me, but I told them I was too scared to have him arrested,’’ she said.
“Instead of encouraging me and making me feel better and giving me some options, they just said if I didn’t want him arrested then they’d have to say it was consensual.
“I don’t feel as if anyone listened to me, nobody cared, so how was I supposed to think about what was happening to me?
“In the privacy of my own flat I was so scared and didn’t know what to do because everybody thought it was my own fault.
“I’d be at home crying, saying to myself that I had to come up with a plan to stop it happening the next time. I’d listen to my music loud on headphones so I couldn’t hear the door banging.
“Now, I’d really like to give advice to young girls in this position. I want to help them.’’
Operation Chalice: The men brought to justice
Mohammed Ali Sultan was among seven men jailed after a three-year investigation into a child exploitation ring in Telford.
Youth workers first raised the alarm when teenage girls in Wellington started telling them the same stories about a network of men abusing them. They were finally convicted in cases stretching over two years after judges heard heartbreaking evidence from four girls, who were aged 13 to 16 when abused between 2007 and 2009.
The leading grooming gang members were brothers Ahdel and Mubarek Ali, of Wellington. Ahdel Ali, 25, was jailed for 18 years.
His 29-year-old brother Mubarek was jailed for 14 years.
Also convicted were Tanveer Ahmed, 40, of Wellington, who was jailed for two and half years after admitting controlling a child for prostitution.
Mohammed Islam Choudhrey, 53, of Sutton Hill, was jailed for two and half years after admitting having sex with a Telford schoolgirl.
Mahroof Khan, 35, of Wellington, was jailed for 30 months after admitting having sex with a 15-year-old girl.
Mohammed Younis, 61, of Arleston, was jailed for two and a half years for allowing his property to be used as a brothel, by allowing a man to have sex with a girl being controlled as a prostitute.
Credt: Mirror UK