Two men and three youths found guilty of child sexual exploitation after Operation Erle

14:12 16 January 2014

Zdeno Mirga.

Zdeno Mirga.

Archant

Two men and three youths involved in a child sexual exploitation case in Cambridgeshire have been convicted of 26 crimes.

Zdeno Mirga, 18, of College Park, Peterborough, Hassan Abdulla, 33, of Summerfield Road, Peterborough, two 17-year-old boys and a 14-year-old were convicted at the Old Bailey yesterday (Wednesday, January 15).

The charges included 18 rapes, three sexual assaults, three counts of inciting sexual activity with a child and sexual activity with a child.

Mirga was unanimously convicted of eight counts of rape and found guilty of inciting child prostitution by a majority verdict of 10 to two.

He had admitted four charges of sexual activity with a child, while one of the 17 year-olds had admitted two counts of sexual touching at the start of the trial.

Abdulla was found guilty of four rapes and three counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

They will be sentenced at a later date.

Two men, aged 20 and 26, and a 14-year-old boy were cleared of 10 charges.

The investigation was the first trial under Operation Erle, which is a joint inquiry between Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Peterborough City Council’s Children’s Services.

The operation involved an information trawl to identify vulnerable young people who were potentially at risk of being exploited.

Det Supt Gary Ridgway, head of the force’s public protection department, said: “This is a huge inquiry and all that hard work has paid off today with the conviction of two men and three boys.

“This has been a great example of joint working in what is a new way of investigating this type of crime.

“Our proactive approach has had safeguarding young people and protecting them from harm at its core throughout. We will continue to bring those who seek to exploit some of the most vulnerable members of our society to justice.”

Peterborough City Council’s chief executive Gillian Beasley said: “Listening to the catalogue of crimes committed against these children has been absolutely devastating and we wish they could have been rescued sooner.

“But it was not until our social workers and the police gained the trust of the victims, so they felt able to tell us the full extent of what was happening, that the police were able to arrest the criminals who were responsible.

“We are pleased that we have seen justice done today. We would also like to pay tribute to the victims. Without their courage to stand up in court we could never have secured these convictions

“We have also called for a serious case review. We will be working closely with that review and we look forward to the findings.

“No one is more determined than us to stop criminals like these preying on our children and we will be sharing everything we have learned with colleagues around the country.”

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