Cambridgeshire

Peterborough child sex abuser Mohammed Khubaib 'was my friend'

Mohammed Khubaib Image copyright Cambridgeshire Police
Image caption Mohammed Khubaib has been jailed for 13 years for rape and grooming offences

A restaurant owner from Peterborough has been jailed for 13 years for child sex crimes, including rape and grooming offences. Mohammed Khubaib's conviction marks the conclusion of a Cambridgeshire Police operation to protect those being exploited by the men they have come to trust most.

The story is all too familiar.

The girls were vulnerable, some of them living in care and dealing with problems at school. The man they met offered them solace in the form of vodka, tobacco and trips to McDonald's.

But, as the jury at the Old Bailey heard, the arrangement soon turned into something much more sinister.

In August 2007, Khubaib - a father, husband and owner of a restaurant and a lettings agency in Peterborough - raped a 14-year-old girl.

The court heard he forced her to perform oral sex on him after she was given alcohol, before she was "rewarded" with £5.

"It was disgusting what he did to me. I remember coming out of the room and being so shocked at what happened," she said.

The victim, now in her 20s, said she was a "typical" young teenager before the attack, and believed "Mohammed was my friend who I had under my thumb".

"Now I know that he was the one with the control."

Image copyright Cambridgeshire Police
Image caption Some of Khubaib's victims have said they felt his actions were "disgusting"

She said: "Looking back at the time I used to spend with Mohammed as a 13 and 14-year-old, even before I was raped, I think how weird it was that he used to buy us alcohol and want to spend time with us.

"He would ring us and ask us if we wanted to go out. As a parent now, if I knew my child was out with an older man, I would be out looking for them, and I would be angry as to why a grown man would want to spend time with young teenagers."

Khubaib was arrested at the time of the rape in 2007, but the victim dropped the case and no further action was taken.

But when police turned up to speak to her in 2013, she said she decided giving evidence was the "right thing to do".

"If we, the victims, didn't go to court then he could carry on with what he was doing," she said.

Image caption Mohammed Khubaib lived in Peterborough with his wife and children

Another of Khubaib's victims told police about how he would "buy us alcohol whenever we needed it and give us lifts".

"He'd say I was beautiful, that he liked me, that he didn't care about his wife and kids," she said.

One night, things went further when he tried to kiss her and she told him she just wanted to be friends.

The girl, 15 at the time, said the experience made her feel "disgusting".

"The fact he had kids, his age, he was a businessman, and he was meeting young girls to do stuff and not just be friends with them," she said.

During the course of the trial, the Old Bailey also heard Khubaib, 43, had bought fast food for one of his victims, giving her small sums of money and a £40 bunch of flowers for her 15th birthday.

He told the girl he wanted her to be his wife, saying he would "choose her over everyone else".

Image caption Police and Peterborough City Council traced a number of girls at risk of exploitation

Khubaib's crimes were uncovered as part of Operation Erle, a joint "victim-led" investigation, which started in January 2013.

Police and city council children's services officials had started looking at those deemed as being at risk of exploitation a few months previously, in light of events in Rochdale and Rotherham.

What they found out led them to one of Khubaib's properties in Lincoln Road in the city, where officers found Khubaib, a man called Manase Motaung, a third man and two teenage girls.

Mr Motaung was found not guilty of five counts of trafficking for sexual exploitation and one charge of rape.

In interviews with detectives, Khubaib claimed his relationship with the girls was innocent and denied having any sexual contact with the girl he raped.

Although he stuck to his denial through the eight-week trial, the jury took less than a day to reach its verdict.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Mohammed Khubaib was arrested at a property he owned in Lincoln Road, Peterborough

Khubaib was found guilty of forcing a a 14-year-old girl to perform a sex act on him and nine counts of trafficking for sexual exploitation involving girls aged from 12 to 15 between November 2010 and January 2013.

"Khubaib befriended the girls and plied them with alcohol with the sole intent of sexually exploiting them," said Det Supt Gary Ridgway, who investigated the case.

"They have each shown great bravery in giving evidence against their abuser at court."

The girls' bravery was also commended by Peterborough City Council.

"[This] is an important day for these girls and young women," said Wendi Ogle-Welbourn, corporate director of people and communities.

"It is important because they have been believed. And because of this they can now get on with their lives and properly begin their recovery.

"That recovery may take a long time but we will help and support them in every way we can."

Image copyright PA
Image caption A number of Peterborough men have faced trial over child sex offences

Khubaib's conviction is the 10th and final case brought as part of Operation Erle. Five of the men convicted are of Pakistani origin.

In January 2014, two men and three teenage boys were found guilty of a series of rapes and sexual assaults on five girls, described by the Crown Prosecution Service as one of the "worst cases" of child sex abuse it had seen.

A few months later, two more Peterborough sex attackers who had targeted teenage girls via Facebook were jailed: Yasir Ali, 29, for 20 years and Daaim Ashraf, 20, for 12 years..

Mrs Ogle-Welbourn said she had "no doubt that girls and young women are safer in our city as a result" of the investigation.

"Now that Operation Erle is at an end we will reflect very carefully on what it has achieved, what lessons we have learned and how we can work with other councils and police forces across the country to pool our learning so we continue to tackle child sexual exploitation, that exists in far too many of our communities," she added.

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