Peterborough grooming trial: Mohammed Khubaib guilty of sex offences on girls

image captionMohammed Khubaib has been found guilty of grooming girls in Peterborough

A married restaurant owner with a "persistent and almost predatory interest" in girls has been found guilty of rape and grooming offences.

The conviction of Peterborough businessman Mohammed Khubaib, 43, is the latest in Cambridgeshire Police's Operation Erle.

Khubaib forced a 14-year-old girl to perform a sex act on him and committed nine counts of trafficking.

Following the guilty verdict at the Old Bailey, he will be sentenced on 15 May.

Khubaib's friend Manase Motaung, 32, was cleared of related offences by the jury.

Judge Peter Rook QC told Khubaib: "You have been convicted of a very serious offence of a rape on a young girl... having plied her with vodka.

"You have also been convicted of no less than nine trafficking offences in relation to under-age girls who you were deliberately plying with vodka so that you could take advantage of them, knowing they craved vodka so you could exploit them sexually.

image source, Cambridgeshire Police
image captionKhubaib's conviction brings the total number of people to be convicted under Operation Erle to 10, of which five are of Pakistani origin.

Khubaib was caught as part of Operation Erle, which investigated sex offences against girls in the Peterborough area.

The court heard that Khubaib's activities in Peterborough involved girls being befriended and then "hooked" with alcohol - normally vodka - in an attempt to make them "compliant" to sexual advances.

Khubaib, who lived in the city with his wife and children, would pursue his interest "away from his home and family", using his restaurant as a "focal point".

Mark Dennis QC, prosecuting, said the girls were vulnerable because of their age, background, circumstances or unsettled schooling and Khubaib pretended to be their "friend and helper".

Khubaib, who also ran a lettings agency, would drive girls to flats in his 4x4 car and, once there, they would be groomed for sex by being "plied with alcohol and entertained by himself and his friends".

He raped the 14-year-old girl in August 2007 by forcing her to perform oral sex on him after she was given alcohol and then "rewarded" with £5, the court heard.

His conviction brings the total number of people to be convicted under Operation Erle to 10, of which five are of Pakistani origin.

Four previous cases led to nine male defendants being jailed for 59 offences against 15 girls, from Peterborough, with a couple from Lincolnshire and Rutland.

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