A 45-year-old man has been sentenced to nine years and six months years in prison this afternoon, after being found guilty of sexually exploiting a child.
Zalgai Ahmadi, formerly of Rotherham, was handed the term by a judge at Sheffield Crown Court after a jury heard how he falsely imprisoned and sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl in 2003.
Ahmadi was not in the UK when officers working on Operation Clover deemed him a suspect in 2013, but he was subsequently detained at Heathrow Airport while attempting to return to the UK under a different name in 2016.
Ahmadi is the 21st defendant to have been found guilty following South Yorkshire Police investigations, taking the combined total sentencing beyond 290 years for historic child sexual exploitation offending in Rotherham.
Since inception in 2013, the major crime investigation team has also helped convict five people in Sheffield to a combined total of over 43 years in prison.
Senior investigating officer DCI Martin Tate said: “Our thoughts are with the victim of this heinous crime and the women who were subjected to the horrific sexual abuse investigated under Operation Clover.
“The victim in this case has shown tremendous courage. Despite coming face-to-face with her abuser and having to relive her trauma before the court, she has maintained her dignity and composure.
“Hopefully she can now draw comfort from seeing Ahmadi brought to justice.
“I would urge anyone who may have been a victim of abuse to come forward and talk to someone. We will listen, we will help and we will bring perpetrators to justice.”
“A range of agencies are available to offer support to victims of sexual exploitation and South Yorkshire Police receives strong backing from Victim Support, Barnardos, Sheffield Futures, GROW and the wider voluntary sector.
“Staff at our partner agencies are extremely passionate about helping victims and survivors and we can’t thank them enough for their dedication.”
Anyone with concerns about child sexual exploitation should contact the police on 101 or the new national helpline Say Something on 116 000. The Rotherham Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) can also be contacted on 01709 336 080. Always call 999 in an emergency.
Operation Clover has been superseded by Operation Stovewood. Dedicated to tackling historic child sexual abuse, Stovewood is run by the National Crime Agency.
Ian Thomas, Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services at Rotherham Council, welcoming today’s sentencing.
He said: “This is yet another key milestone in our tireless campaign to crack down on those criminals who seek to cause horrendous suffering through vile crimes of sexual abuse. The victim here was a child at the end of the day whose childhood was shattered as a result of people like Ahmadi.
“I am glad for her that he has been found guilty and sentenced and I hope that this helps her to try and put the past behind her and move on with her life. This latest sentencing takes the total years given to both historic and current offenders to over 330 years. We shall leave no stone unturned in our bid to stamp out this crime.”