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Saturday, 15 January 2011

I was kept prisoner by the Muslim sex gang predator

By Sue Reid, 15th January 2011, from the Mail Online

Pretty teenager Toni-Marie Redfern thought she’d found the perfect boyfriend. Polite, handsome, and seven years her senior, he drove a silver BMW, wore designer suits and bought her dinner at her favourite pizza café.

No wonder her schoolfriends were envious. And when he asked her to marry him, she started to make plans for their future.

Yet Toni-Marie eventually learned the truth about Abid Mohammed Saddique.

While they were going out, the British-born man of Pakistani origin was orchestrating what is believed to be the biggest sex-abuse ring ever discovered in Britain, involving up to 100 young girls.

Last week, Saddique and his accomplice, Mohammed Liaqat, whose Derby-based gang groomed girls (most of whom were white and aged between 12 and 18) for sex, were jailed for bringing a ‘reign of terror’ to the North Midlands city.

A court heard how the pair — who had undergone arranged marriages in Pakistan — cruised the streets in a BMW or a Range Rover, which Saddique referred to as the ‘Rape Rover’.

Girls were ‘chatted up’ on the street and invited for drives, during which they were plied with vodka or cocaine before being taken to hotel rooms, parks or houses to be abused. Key to the men’s conviction was Toni-Marie, now 20, who bravely gave evidence against her ex-lover.
Talking exclusively to the Mail yesterday, she said: ‘When I discovered what he had done to those girls, I felt physically sick. He was the puppet master and all his mates were his puppets. Everyone did whatever he told them to do.’

Following the imprisonment of Saddique and the emergence of a string of other similar cases, a nationwide investigation was launched this week into the grooming of vulnerable girls for sex.

There have been 17 court prosecutions since 1997 with 56 men found guilty of rape, child abduction, indecent assault and sex with a child.
Three of the 56 were white and the rest of Pakistani heritage. Of those, 50 were Muslim and the majority of these British Pakistanis.

Last year, in a series of articles for the Mail, I revealed how this exploitation — concentrated in communities across Northern England and the Midlands — has continued for more than a decade without serious public discussion and that the issue was often regarded as ‘taboo’ by police officers terrified of being accused of racism.

Although these revelations were only the tip of an iceberg, I was pilloried for suggesting that the ­cultural backgrounds of the gangs were relevant to the crimes.

Indeed, when the Saddique case first hit the headlines last year, BBC reports did not mention the ethnicity or religion of the predators.

Yet yesterday, Radio 4’s Today programme carried an item in which a DJ on the BBC Radio Asian network said: ‘Men have phoned in to our show and said: “White girls are easy. Fact.”’
The report quoted another journalist who said some men have the so-called ‘Madonna-Whore’ complex — the idea that women fall into two categories: ‘virtuous’ women whom one marries, and ‘bad’ or ‘dirty’ women who are used for sex.

He added that some Muslim cultures encourage the abuse of white girls, who are seen to be ‘whores’.

The programme also asked British males of Pakistani Muslim origin in Bradford why white girls were targeted for sex. One replied: ‘It is the way white women dress, isn’t it, in mini-skirts. It encourages men to go jack [snatch or attack] them.’

Mick Gradwell, a former detective superintendent, this week said the targeting of underage girls had been going on for decades but officers had been reluctant to comment because they feared ‘being called institutionally racist’.

Adding to the controversy, former Home Secretary Jack Straw also tackled the issue and described some of the white girl victims as ‘easy meat’ for gangs. But the Blackburn MP was accused of ‘stereotyping’ — implying the cases were symbolic of a ‘cultural problem’.

Mohammed Shafiq, who runs a Muslim youth organisation, said there was ‘a perception that these white girls have lesser morals and lesser values than women of Pakistani heritage’ — although he added that it was deeply offensive to suggest ‘that this is somehow ingrained in the community’.

Toni-Marie’s remarkable story adds a disturbing insight into the crimes. What happened to this Derby schoolgirl nearly ruined her life.

She says: ‘I felt something wasn’t right from the moment I met Saddique. Even early on, I was thinking: “What have you got yourself into?” As I became more involved with him, it felt like there was no way out. It seemed like I didn’t have a choice as he was so controlling.’

‘He said I was supposed to wear things that covered my arms and he encouraged me to convert to Islam.’ She says they met when she was 14. She was shopping in Derby with a friend when she was chatted up by Saddique and Liaqat (who were in their early 20s). ‘Although I thought it was all a bit weird — someone just coming up to us and chatting — I was flattered by the attention,’ she says.
However, unknown to Toni-Marie, this was how the pair of sexual predators regularly trapped their victims. They met young girls on the streets, gave them free mobile phones (so they could keep in touch easily) and offered them vodka and drugs, took them to parties and went on drives in fast cars.

Soon, Saddique wanted Toni-Marie to be his girlfriend — although he was already married to a Muslim wife who would shortly become pregnant.
Toni-Marie was living at the time with her grandparents because her mother, Wendy, had remarried. When she told them about her new boyfriend, they were immediately worried.
The couple — Christine, a former grammar school pupil, and Christopher, a retired builder — thought he was too old for their granddaughter. But they were afraid if they stopped her seeing him, she might leave home and run away with him or even convert to Islam and disappear from her family.

During their relationship, Saddique gave her a copy of the Koran to read secretly in her bedroom and told her she should cover her head with a scarf when she went out, in keeping with his Muslim faith.
As Toni-Marie recalls now: ‘On one of my first nights out with Saddique and Liaqat, I was taken to a seedy flat of one of the gang where they were sniffing coke. There was another girl there who was grabbed by the throat by Liaqat. Looking back now, it should have scared me to death.’
But Toni-Marie was in thrall to these two men and admits she was going through a stage where she enjoyed rebelling against her family.

As the relationship continued, Saddique took her to an empty house in Derby, owned by his parents, where they slept together. She would often return home with her eyes glazed, looking as if she had taken drugs.

Saddique encouraged her to distance herself from her family and friends at the care home where she had started working after leaving school.

Ironically, but in a step typical of the double standards of such sexual predators, Saddique tried to stop her wearing low tops.

‘He said I was supposed to wear things that covered my arms and he encouraged me to convert to Islam.’

But, in time, he stopped his charming act. ‘First, it was verbal abuse. But then he became violent. He grabbed me once and chucked me through a door over a stupid little argument.’

Such incidents quickly increased. He assaulted her — ripping out her hair extensions and kicking her in the head. At this point, Toni-Marie’s mother found out about the violence and called in the police. As a result, he was convicted of assault but not jailed.

Despite all this, Toni-Marie says she couldn’t find a way out of the relationship. ‘He was constantly texting me, threatening me, waiting outside my house for me. Watching for me leaving work. He was desperate to control me.’

Once, when they had an argument, he punished her by locking her in the cellar of the empty house for three days, stripped to her underwear.
Although it is hard to believe, Toni-Marie says she had no clue that he was grooming many other white girls — to be ‘passed around and used as meat’ by his friends (in the words of Detective Chief Inspector Alan Edwards of West Mercia Police).

She says she was totally unaware that Saddique and his associates were offering girls rides in their car, plying them with alcohol and taken to parks, hotel rooms or houses, where they were forced to have sex.

Nevertheless, Toni-Marie now decided to sever all links with him. She explains: ‘In one of the last conversations I had with him, he referred to his Land Rover as the “Rape Rover”. That is when I knew I had to escape. I’d had enough.’

Predictably, Saddique was incandescent and turned up at her grandparents’ house repeatedly, threatening them if he was not allowed to see her.

Once, Toni-Marie went out to sit in his car to explain to him that their relationship was over.

He sped off with her and dumped her in her dressing gown in the middle of the night in a road three miles outside Derby.

Her family found her and took her home.

Saddique, though, wouldn’t be thwarted and when he came looking for her again and again, he was set upon by one of Toni-Marie’s relatives who hit him, breaking his jaw.

Eventually, in April 2009 (a few months after Toni-Marie had finally thrown off Saddique), police officers tracking the gang leader’s movements visited Toni-Marie to interview her.

‘In one of the last conversations I had with him, he referred to his Land Rover as the “Rape Rover”.They knew the two had been friends and wanted to know about his lifestyle and the addresses he visited.

It was at this point, she says, that she learnt for the first time that her ex-boyfriend was a serial sex ­predator. Stunned, she spent four hours giving police a statement, recalling every detail of their two-year relationship.

Toni-Marie insists that she never saw girls being sexually assaulted by Saddique or went to the eight-bedroom house rented by Saddique’s gang in Derby where most of the abuse happened. The police confirm this.

But she admits he must have been abusing young girls throughout the period they were going out.

She also concedes she was probably a trophy for Saddique: ‘I was a white girl who he wanted to control and prove that he could convert to Islam. I saw him and the gang tell non-Muslim girls they were “slags”. I believe it was the religion and culture of these men that made them act like that.’

However, other witnesses revealed how a constant stream of men from all over Britain would turn up at the gang’s rented house in Derby where scores of girls — white, mixed race and a few of Asian non-Muslim heritage — were held prisoner and raped by Saddique and other men.
One 21-year-old man, who witnessed the terrible scenes, gave evidence against the gang in court. This week he said: ‘The girls would scream to be let out. But the gang left two handguns, including a 9mm Beretta, in the sitting room. It was a warning about what might ­happen if they did not obey.’

On another occasion, a 17-year-old girl was filmed being gang-raped. The man recalled: ‘The girl was drunk and drugged. She began by co-operating and kissing one man. But when she was overwhelmed by him and others she started weeping “stop it”.’

Today, Toni-Marie is slowly picking up her life, with a new boyfriend and a different job.

Apart from feeling embarrassed by having been taken in by ­Saddique, she says she is not happy that he was sentenced to serve only a minimum of 11 years in jail.

‘I am angry at the short ­sentence. You can get almost the same for robbery.’
In court, Saddique admitted: ‘These are girls I did not respect.’
Meanwhile, her grandmother, Christine, keeps her stout hockey stick from her former grammar school days..

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