January 2019

On the run child rapist caught

A convicted child-sex offender, who was part of a gang that exploited and raped teenage girls in Rochdale who went on the run to avoid a 19-year jail sentence, has been arrested in Pakistan where he fled during his trial, the British High Commission in Islamabad said on Thursday.

Choudhry Ikhalaq Hussain, 41, was part of a group of men of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Afghan origin who were jailed for abusing dozens of girls following an investigation centred on the town of Rochdale near Manchester.

The men groomed the girls with gifts and plied them with alcohol and drugs before forcing them to have sex with others.

Hussain, of Mayfield Terrace, was given permission to attend a family funeral in the UK when he went on the run.

His arrest follows a joint operation by police in the UK and Pakistan.

Most of the offences took place between 2004 and 2008 and involved victims who were aged 13 to 23.

A teenage girl, raped by all 10 men, contacted police after the 2012 convictions of nine Asian defendants for grooming white girls in the town.

She said “hundreds” of older men would ring her up wanting sex and she had been groomed from the age of 14.

Hussain escaped during the trial but was found guilty in 2016 in his absence of a series of serious offences including rape and sexual activity with a child.

“The arrest of this individual, who has been convicted of sexual offences by a British court, is a significant achievement and another excellent example of UK-Pakistan cooperation in tackling international criminality and impunity,” Thomas Drew, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan said.

“It sends a clear message that Pakistan is not a safe haven for international criminals.”

Pakistani courts will now decide whether to extradite Hussain back to Britain, the Commission said.