Latest trial part of a wider inquiry into sex grooming

Police prepare to go out on the Operation Bullfinch raids in 2012

Police prepare to go out on the Operation Bullfinch raids in 2012

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Crime Reporter, also covering Barton and Wood Farm. Call me on (01865) 425427

THE Oxford Mail is able to reveal that both Zeeshan and Bilal Ahmed were defendants in the first Bullfinch trial held last year after winning a legal challenge yesterday.

Child abuser Zeeshan, 28, was jailed for seven years following the Old Bailey grooming trial last year while Bilal, 27, was cleared of sexually abusing an underage girl.

But the Oxford Mail had been banned for more than a year until yesterday from reporting Bilal’s acquittal because of this second trial he was facing.

An order was also in place banning any mention that this trial was part of the overall Bullfinch investigation by police because judges feared it would prejudice the jury.

The Oxford Mail succeeded in having the orders overturned yesterday.

The Crown Prosecution Service had even applied to keep the pair’s identities secret from the public during the trial but lost that application after opposition from this newspaper.

Last night the older sister of a witness in last year’s London trial welcomed the latest verdicts and said justice had now caught up with Bilal.

The two Ahmed cousins were among nine men to spend 18 weeks in the dock of courtroom eight at the Central Criminal Court last year.

The jury heard underage girls living in council care were targeted by a gang of men who plied them with gifts, alcohol and drugs before having sex with them and inviting their friends to have sex with them too.

Seven of the defendants were convicted of charges including rape, arranging child prostitution, and sex trafficking.

And in June last year Judge Peter Rook jailed the gang for a total of 95 years and gave five of the men life sentences.

The abuse all happened between 2004 and 2012.

Operation Bullfinch is still ongoing and police last year said they believed there could be up to 60 victims of the gang. More than 50 men have been investigated.

Zeeshan Ahmed has been in prison since he was arrested in the first Bullfinch police raids in March 2012.

He was convicted last year of having sex with two underage girls – aged 14 and 15.

The Old Bailey jury heard Zeeshan gave girls drugs and booze before having sex with them.

One of the girls told the trial she had seen Zeeshan snort cocaine.

Bilal, of Suffolk Road in Maidenhead, would come up to Oxford to visit his cousin in his flat above Simpli Fresh in Cowley Road.

The cousins fell out because Zeeshan’s brother wanted to marry Bilal’s sister but his family refused, the trial heard. Zeeshan had also failed to return a loan of £250 Bilal had lent him for a deposit on a room.

It was this current case in which the Crown Prosecution Service admitted it twice made an untrue allegation at Oxford Crown Court about the Oxford Mail’s coverage.

TIMELINE

  • November 2010: Senior Investigating officer Simon Morton spots a pattern in vulnerable girls going missing repeatedly
  • May 2011: Operation Bullfinch launched to investigate the organised sexual exploitation of vulnerable children in Oxford
  • March 2012: Thirteen men arrested in raids across Oxford
  • January 2013: The trial of nine men accused of grooming and abusing girls begins at the Old Bailey in London
  • May 2013: After 18 weeks the jury finds seven of the nine defendants guilty of a range of crimes including arranging child prostitution and sex trafficking
  • June 2013: The seven men are jailed for a total of 95 years. Five of them are given life sentences
  • June 2014: Bilal Ahmed is found guilty of sexual assault and jailed for three-and-a-half years. Zeeshan Ahmed is sentenced to 18 months after being convicted of perverting the course of justice
     
  • Bilal Ahmed police interviews:





    Mustafa Ahmed police interview:



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