Officers sent girl, 12, away with other abusers after sexual assault
Girl, 12, went to police station to report sexual assault – but officers sent her away with OTHER abusers who went on to rape her 15 times
- The incident happened in October 2007 when the victim, now 27, was subjected to more than 20 assaults by eight men in one night, including 15 rapes
- Just one attacker, Shakil Chowdhury, now 54, was caught and jailed for six years
- Greater Manchester Police failed to produce ‘forensic strategy’, returned evidence to Chowdhury and destroyed 24 items of evidence, investigation found
- Victim was also subjected to grooming by teacher Paul Waites, now 48, despite telling social workers who claimed she was ‘very attention seeking’
- Victim case to be examined in probe into child sexual exploitation in Oldham
A woman has detailed her experience after she put her trust into the hands of police after a sex attack, but was handed to predators who inflicted more abuse at the age of just 12.
The young girl was sent away by a desk clerk who told her to accept a lift home with two men who were at the police station over motoring issues.
It was just the beginning for the young girl, who suffered more than 20 assaults by eight men in one night, including 15 rapes.
Now 27, the woman continues to fight for answers, writes the Sunday Mirror.
Just one attacker was caught but 15 years on, and the victim has not received justice, after the Independent Office for Police Conduct found a string of failings, yet failed to launch disciplinary action against any officers.
The case is now part of an independent probe into child sexual exploitation – but only after the victim insisted that it be included.
The victim said the incident ‘derailed’ her life and that she has PTSD as a result of the trauma
Talking to the Sunday Mirror, the victim said: ‘It’s derailed my life. It’s always there, even when I try to move on.
‘No child should have to go through what I did. I’m speaking out to protect others. The trauma never goes away. I’ve still got PTSD. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.’
The incident happened on October 27, 2006, when she attended Oldham Police Station in Manchester to report being molested.
A man had sexually assaulted her while she drank cider in a churchyard.
But, she said the clerk dismissed her as a timewaster, and urged her to leave with two men who offered her a lift.
‘The clerk said, ‘They’ve offered you a lift, go with them’. The men were being asked to produce licences for driving offences.
‘I don’t know how they haven’t been identified. There must have been logs.’
She says the men then took her to a car and sexually assaulted her.
The incident happened on October 27, 2006, when she attended Oldham Police Station in Manchester (pictured) to report being molested.
She was then driven to the home of a man in his 40s who she says also sexually assaulted her before giving her money to get a bus home.
She was picked up on the next street by Shakil Chowdhury, now 54, who was posing as a taxi driver and promised to help her.
But he and another man in the passenger seat drove to Chowdhury’s house, where three more men appeared.
She says she was raped 15 times by the five men, before being bundled into a car and abandoned the next month.
The girl’s parents were at home when she returned, having called police the previous evening.
But, officers took four hours to respond.
She was then examined, and her injuries were deemed consistent with being raped, and underwent days of video interviews with police.
She also told police about the attack in the churchyard, but it was not treated as a crime. A senior detective later said this was ‘entirely proportionate.’
Shakil Chowdhury (pictured) was jailed for six years after admitting to six rapes
She also gave an account of the abuse she suffered at the hands of the men who picked her up at the police station, but a log was never generated.
The officer responsible claimed this was an ‘oversight’. His supervisors later concluded a report should have been made, but said this was a ‘minor criticism.’
The attacker whose house she left before being picked up by Chowdhury was arrested and charged with abusing her. But, he absconded while on bail and has never been found.
Chowdhury was also arrested but refused to name any accomplices.
He was jailed for six years after admitting to six rapes, and the case was closed while his accomplices were outstanding.
The victim contacted police again in 2012 to find out if any progress had been made on tracking down eight of her abusers, applying to see records on her case.
Officers then launched a fresh investigation, codenamed Operation Solent.
Greater Manchester Police were unable to produce records to show if condoms and tissues found at the scene were examined, or provide details of a ‘forensic strategy.’
Additionally, it was revealed that 22 pieces of evidence were returned to Chowdhury via his solicitor just 10 months after his conviction.
Greater Manchester Police were unable to produce records to show if condoms and tissues found at the scene were examined, or provide details of a ‘forensic strategy’
A report into the decision to return evidence to the perpetrator also revealed that 24 items of evidence had been destroyed in 2008.
‘The decision to release certain items of property seems to exclude the possibility that the items may be of forensic relevance to the other unidentified suspects,’ the report read.
‘The bedding and towel had not been submitted for forensic examination, however, they were returned.
‘Clearly, items had been disposed of, and had they been retained from the original inquiry, then it may or may not have led to us identifying people or eliminating them.’
When Operation Solent failed to lead to fresh charges, the victim asked GMP to review the original case.
She says she was ‘failed by the system’ – and not for the first time.
Prior to the incident in October 2007, she was groomed and abused by a teacher who befriended her online.
Paul Waites, now 48, lured her to a Sainsbury’s car park after the pair spoke online, and then raped and assaulted her over the course of the summer of 2006.
Paul Waites (pictured) was jailed for a further 11 years after the victim reported him to police, to find he had been jailed in 2009 for assaults on other children. Last year, he received a life sentence for raping another victim in Leeds in 2005.
It was only in 2013 that she felt able to report Waites to police, only to find he had been jailed in 2009 for assaults on other children.
He admitted raping and abusing the victim in 2015, and was jailed for a further 11 years. Last year, he received a life sentence for raping another victim in Leeds in 2005.
The woman now searching for answers has since made an official request to access her files, including a report written by a sexual health worker when she was 12, after she claimed a social work she she was ‘trying to shock her’ when she disclosed the online grooming and abuse to her.
It read: ‘She is now on her third sexual partner. She has made an informed choice to remain SA [sexually active]. She has a mature attitude and looks older than her age.’
Despite her age, notes added there was ‘no indication of abuse’, and an outreach worker added: ‘I feel [victim] is very attention seeking and tries to get a response from me.’
The victim said: ‘No one tried to stop me from meeting him. I thought he was my boyfriend. It made me feel like it was normal.
‘I wanted to find out why this had happened. I knew I’d been failed, but I was totally shocked by just how badly I’d been let down.’
In 2018, Greater Manchester Police upheld two of the girl’s complaints
In 2018, Greater Manchester Police upheld two of the girl’s complaints, ruling that her case should not have been closed after Chowdhury’s conviction, and that officers should not have taken four hours to respond when she was reported missing in October 2007.
When Greater Manchester Police failed to sanction any officers, she contacted police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which ruled a further four complaints should have been upheld including a complaint referring to how the victim was treated at Oldham Police station in October 2007.
But the IOPC ruled it could take no further action as the clerk could not be identified.
The IOPC also said that aspects of evidence retrieval were flawed and that potentially relevant evidence was destroyed, and that greater care should have been taken with notebooks, which have subsequently been lost.
One officer was advised to receive further training.
The victim could now have grounds to sue the police under the Data Protection Act.
Her case will now be examined in the independent probe into child sexual exploitation in Oldham, which will examine claims that agencies were aware of ongoing abuse but ‘failed to respond appropriately to safeguard children and subsequently covered up these failings’.
Between 2006 and 2020, Oldham social services had referrals warning 700 children faced a potential risk of sex abuse.
The probe will also be looking at abuse in Rochdale.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham (pictured) has ordered the investigation
Gerard Jones, managing director for children and young people at Oldham council, said: ‘There were times when vulnerable people did not receive help they should expect and deserve.
‘Things have improved significantly in recent years. We were, and are, determined not to shy away from issues, but to gain fresh, honest and independent insight, and learn lessons.’
Greater Manchester Police said £2.3m has been invested in a new child sexual exploitation investigations unit.
‘Victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation will be listened to, taken seriously, treated with empathy and supported,’ a spokesperson said.
‘Whilst we cannot comment on the specifics of this case and what was clearly a terrible ordeal for the victim, extensive investigations and reviews were carried out. No case for misconduct was found and all further lines of inquiry investigated. No further suspects were identified.’
An IOPC spokesman added: ‘While we agreed with the force that no officer had a case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct, we were not satisfied that appropriate findings were made in relation to some of the allegations.
‘In upholding some of the appeal, we considered a detective constable should receive management action over record keeping and evidence preservation to learn and reflect on their actions.’
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