Banbury men among 18 acquitted over child sexual exploitation probe

Officers from Operation Nautical being briefed ahead of raids on properties in Banbury and Birmingham in March last year NNL-170328-130408001
Officers from Operation Nautical being briefed ahead of raids on properties in Banbury and Birmingham in March last year NNL-170328-130408001

A group of 18 men including seven from Banbury have been acquitted of multiple sexual offences after being charged in child sexual exploitation investigation.

Eleven defendants, which involved the Banbury men, were due to go on trial in February in relation to child sexual exploitation in Oxfordshire but the case has been dismissed.

At a hearing at Blackfriars Crown Court on Thursday (January 25), the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) offered no evidence in respect of the trial of men facing charges of sexual offences against children, meaning they were found not guilty on all counts.

Thames Valley Police, which orchestrated the dawn raids in Banbury and Birmingham in March last year, said the decision taken as the CPS decided there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.

The dismissal of the case was not the result of a failure to disclose evidence and the decision was not related to the issue of disclosure, police added.

Following an earlier linked trial at Oxford Crown Court, which concluded on December 5, a jury acquitted seven defendants of various sexual offences in connection with the same investigation.

A legal restriction previously prevented reporting of the December trial until the second hearing was finished.

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Mick Saunders, said: “It was right that the case was brought to court so that a jury could hear and consider the evidence and the defendants could have an opportunity to answer to the case against them. Thames Valley Police respects the decision of the jury.

“Prosecutions are quite properly kept under review and Thames Valley Police accepts the decision of the CPS not to proceed with the second linked trial and to offer no evidence in respect of the defendants in that case.

“We will review the investigation, as we would in all such cases, to identify whether there is any learning for future investigations of child sexual exploitation.

“Thames Valley Police will always take all reports of sexual offences extremely seriously. Specialist officers will continue to work to support victims sensitively and to investigate offences thoroughly.

“We commend the courage of those who come forward to report abuse and will continue to endeavour to bring to justice those who are responsible for the crimes.”

A total of 56 charges were brought as a result of Operation Nautical, including rape, false imprisonment and sexual assault.

The offences related to three female victims in Banbury between 2008 and 2015.

The 11 men accused of child sexual exploitation and various sexual offences were Qamran Hafiz, 24, of Danesmoor; Atiq Hussain, 23, of Avenue Road; Tafail Mohammed, 23, of East Close; Marcelo Suarez, 20, of Hillside Close; Leon Cole, 19, of Alma Road; Abdul Safraz, 31, of Deacon Way; Nasser Younis, 37, of Sandford Green; Ahsan Raza, 19, of Churchill Road, Birmingham, and Atique Akhtar, 23, Aamir Arfi, 23, and Waquas Hussain, 24, all of no fixed abode.

Accused of sexual offences were Shabir Dogar, 23, of Bertie Place, Oxford; Shabaz Khan, 23, of Cosin Close, Oxford; Joseph Suraina, 22, of Marlborough Close, Oxford; Shohab Dogar, 23, of Tawney Street, Oxford; Yasin Hamid, 20, of Moorbank, Oxford; Usman Idris, 22, of Northway, Oxford; and another man.