Middlesbrough grooming case: three guilty of child sex offences
A 17-year-old boy has been found guilty of grooming and sexually exploiting teenage girls on Teesside.
Ateeq Latif, from Middlesbrough, was found guilty a day after the jury at Teesside Crown Court found taxi driver Shakil Munir, 32, guilty of charges involving girls aged 13 and 14.
A third man, Sakib Ahmed, 19, pleaded guilty to exploiting five victims. The men, all from Middlesbrough, were "loosely connected", the court heard.
Two 18-year-old men were cleared.
Judge John Walford lifted orders banning Ahmed's guilty pleas and Latif's identity being reported.
The court heard allegations relating to seven victims, some of whom were known to each other.
The "vulnerable" girls were groomed with offers of free lifts, takeaway food and in some case drugs, prosecutors said.
Latif, of Abingdon Road, and Ahmed, of Cambridge Road, will be sentenced alongside Munir, of Tollesby Road, at a later date.
Latif was found guilty of two counts of arranging or facilitating commission of a child sex offence. His victims were both aged 14. He was cleared of another count of the same charge.
Ahmed admitted five counts of sexual activity with a child before the six-week trial of the other defendants.
Munir was found guilty of four counts of sexual activity with a child and one of child abduction.
Speaking after the case, Det Insp Dino Carlucci, of Cleveland Police, said: "These men preyed on young, vulnerable girls by befriending them and securing their trust and then exploited it.
"This has been an arduous and protracted inquiry for all involved and particularly for the young victims, who I commend for having the strength to see this through until the end.
"It hasn't been easy for them, or their loved ones, but hopefully now they can put this behind them and look forward to bright futures."