Wednesday 4pm: City council chiefs have called for a serious case review after two men and three teenage boys were found guilty on Wednesday (15 January) of a series of rapes and sexual assaults in Peterborough.
Zdeno Mirga, (18), Hassan Abdulla, (33), and three boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were convicted at the Old Bailey.
The group targeted five teenage girls and are due to be sentenced on February 20.
Mirga’s brother Dusan, (20), David Ziga, (19), and a fourth teenager were acquitted.
One of the group’s victims was a 13-year-old girl with a severe learning disability.
After a trial lasting two-and-a-half months, the five were convicted of 18 counts of rape, one of causing or inciting child prostitution, one of engaging in sexual activity with a child, three of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, and three of sexual assault.
Speaking afterwards, 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.”
Detective Superintendent Gary Ridgway said: “Today’s convictions are part of the ongoing joint inquiry by Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Peterborough City Council’s Children’s social care to safeguard young people and bring offenders to justice.
“This case was entirely victim-led. We, along with Peterborough City Council Children’s Services, identified young people who we believed were at risk of harm, engaged with them and, as a result, identified a number of people who were exploiting them.
“These girls were targeted simply because they were vulnerable. They were seen as easy targets and exploited by this group of teenage boys and young men who abused them for their own sexual gratification.
“The victims, who were as young as 12 years old, were subjected to horrific ordeals.
“But they have shown incredible strength throughout this process: in particular by giving evidence at court in order to bring these people to justice.
“We are committed to helping those girls pick up the pieces and move on with their lives.
“Our priority has always been, and remains, to safeguard young people. We will continue to work with the city council and other partner agencies to keep young people safe from harm.”
Full story, with reaction from Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson: Serious case review after Peterborough child sex gang convicted of horrific abuse