All credit to the Oxford Mail for reporting daily on Operation Bullfinch the trial of nine Oxfordshire men at the Old Bailey. This is the first report I have seen of the other trial outside the north since the opening remarks when it opened in Norwich last month. I believe it to be deliberate, and to avoid the public gallery being packed with camp followers of the defendants, that this trial is being held in Norwich, not Ipswich, and the Oxford defendants are being tried in London. I also have my eye on developments in Operation Ribbon in High Wycombe.
From the East Anglian Daily Times.
ONE of four men accused of abducting a 13-year-old girl, taking her to Suffolk and forcing her to become a sex slave told police he had encouraged her to resist the other men’s advances. Surin Uddin, 28, from Bethnal Green, is part of a gang standing trial at Norwich Crown Court accused of conspiracy to traffick and various sex offences.
The jury has heard that the girl, from a “troubled” family, was subjected to a string of attacks over four days after being taken from her home in London to a house in Ipswich.
...he said he had visited the house that the girl had been taken to and she told him she was 17 and gave him a false name. He added: “I was shocked when my solicitor said she was 13. I told her straight that I’m not into young girls or anything. If I’d known she as 13, I’d have called the police straight away but I didn’t know that.”
Describing a conversation with the alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, he added: “She told me she had sex with Mr Sheikh. I said ‘Are you serious?’ She said Ali had been forcing her to have sex, and she told him ‘No, I don’t want to have sex’. She asked ‘Would you help me?’ She basically doesn’t want to live in that house, I told her to go back to her parents..."
Uddin insisted he had never had sexual contact with the girl and warned her “these boys are evil” and he would help her if she contacted the police.
During his interview, Sheikh gave “no comment” answers to a number of questions, including inquiries about whether he knew the victim and if he was aware of her age. In a later interview, he said: “I never knew the girl. A friend of mine met her in the street. That’s all.”
Uddin, of St Matthew’s Row, Bethnal Green, east London; Mohamed Sheikh, 31, of Seaton Point in Hackney, London; and Abdul Hammed, 46, of Wellington Street, Ipswich, each deny two counts of rape. Sheikh also denies causing a child to engage in sexual activity. Hamza Ali, 38, of Chingford Road, Waltham Forest, London, denies one count of rape and one of sexual assault.