England

Peterborough sex attack gang jailed

Zdeno Mirga, 18, (left), Hassan Abdulla, 33 Image copyright Other
Image caption Zdeno Mirga, 18, (left), and Hassan Abdulla, 33, (right) were found guilty along with three teenage boys of a series of rapes and sexual assaults on girls

A gang that raped and sexually assaulted five vulnerable girls in Peterborough have been jailed at the Old Bailey.

Hassan Abdulla, 33, was jailed for 20 years while Zdeno Mirga, 18, described as the "boss" by one victim, was jailed for 16 and a half years.

Both were convicted of multiple rapes and child prostitution.

Jan Kandrac, 17, and Renato Balog, 18, were jailed for five and a half and 12 years respectively.

A 14-year-old boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was given a non-custodial six-month youth rehabilitation order after being convicted of sexual activity with a child.

The men and youths were of Czech and Slovak Roma and Kurdish backgrounds.

'Worst case'

Ringleader Mirga and Balog will begin their sentences in a young offender institution.

Mirga was convicted of eight counts of rape and one count of inciting child prostitution. The court heard one of his victims became pregnant.

Drug dealer Abdulla was convicted of four rapes and three counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Image copyright Cambs Police
Image caption Jan Kandrac, 17, and Renato Balog, 18, were jailed for five and a half and 12 years respectively.

Balog, who helped Abdulla sell drugs, was jailed for five rapes and three sexual assaults.

Kandrac will serve his sentence in a young offender institution for one count of rape and two of indecent assault on a child.

The court was told the case came to light when a girl, then aged 12 or 13, was taken into care and began to tell her social worker what had been happening to her.

After the trial the Crown Prosecution Service said it was one of the "worst cases" of child sex abuse it had seen.

The gang preyed on girls who visited a fried chicken takeaway in Peterborough.

They used "sophisticated" grooming tactics to lure them to attacks carried out at parks and other locations, including a children's playground, police said.

Peterborough City Council has begun a serious case review into the care the children received.

Discredited 'hard working Roma'

Ringleader Mirga offered the girls out to other men to get money for vodka and drugs, the court was told.

Judge John Bevan singled out the gang's treatment of one victim, who had severe learning difficulties and a very low IQ.

She was repeatedly raped, with men and boys sometimes lining up to abuse her as a "sexual commodity", he said.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDet Supt Gary Ridgway, from Cambridgeshire Police, praised the bravery of the victims

"To you she was easy meat, a sexual plaything who no one cared about, no one cared for and who nobody would believe.

"Unfortunately for you, the jury did.

"The combination of the crimes you have committed and your attitude to these crimes both in this country and this court bring discredit on all of you in the dock.

"It also does a disservice to your fellow Roma who want to work hard in this country, improve themselves and make a positive contribution."

The judge branded Abdulla a "dangerous predatory paedophile" who fled Iraq in 2002 and has since been convicted of offences including drug possession.

He is likely to be deported once he has served his sentence, along with Balog and Kandrac.

The 14-year-old defendant was allowed to walk free from court after the judge was told he had already spent seven-and-a-half months on remand.

The investigation was a joint inquiry between Cambridgeshire Police and Peterborough City Council's children's services.

Gillian Beasley, chief executive of Peterborough City Council, said it would be "a long road to recovery for these girls".

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionA victim was sexually abused at a playground in Peterborough

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites