A child sex gang of two men and three boys are found guilty of a series of rapes and sexual assaults in Peterborough. Channel 4 News speaks to the ex-partner of one of the accused.
In Rochdale, Oxford and Derby, we heard horrifying detail about gangs of men grooming girls on the streets, plying them with alcohol and drugs. In those now notorious cases, it was largely Pakistani men involved.
But in Peterborough it was different. The perpetrators were Czech Roma, Slovak Roma and Kurdish and they were shockingly young: the ring leader Zdeno Mirga, known as “Skinny”, is now just 18-years-old. Three of the victims, all aged between 12 and 14, were Roma and two were British.
Some of the most extreme abuse was reserved for a girl with learning difficulties. She was aged 12, but had the mental age of a six-year-old.
On Wednesday, two men and three teenagers were found guilty of a series of sexual offences including 18 counts of rape and inciting child prostitution.
Mirga (above left), was convicted of eight counts of rape by a jury at the Old Bailey, as well as inciting child prostitution. Hassan Abdulla, 33, (above right) was found guilty of four rapes and three counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
He had no respect for anyone. He just thought he could do anything he wanted and no-one would stop him – no police, anyone – Nikola Terkelyova, Abdulla’s ex-partner
The three boys convicted of rape and sexual offence charges cannot be named for legal reasons.
Detective Superintendent Gary Ridgway said that police worked jointly with Peterborough city council to bring the offenders to justice, and said the investigation was “entirely victim-lead”.
“These girls were targeted simply because they were vulnerable,” he said. “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.”
The men befriended their victims with the offer of alcohol and drugs. Some of the girls initially saw them as boyfriends, but the relationships quickly changed and the men raped them. One of the attacks happened in a playground in Peterborough’s central park.
Another one of the abusers, Abdulla, held parties at his flat. Often there were ten men surrounding just one girl.
Abdulla’s ex-partner, Nikola Terkelyova testified against her former boyfriend in court and spoke to Channel 4 News.
“I was absolutely disgusted (with) what he’s been doing. Because he has children,” sais Ms Terkelyova. “He had no respect for anyone. He just thought he could do anything he wanted and no-one would stop him – no police, anyone.
“He had this way of thinking that; ‘I am man, I can do anything I want, and you are woman, you are not allowed to do anything, so just shut up,’ and always swearing. He was like, if you hurt me one time, I’ll give you 100 times more back.”
Abdulla brought his victims and his fellow abusers back to his house, where Ms Terkelyova saw the aftermath of the parties and abuse.
“Other people told me as well they had been doing horrible things with those girls,” she said. “They told me that they tied them, got them naked, tied them around a tree, slept with them.”
Some of the men were known to police – they spent much of their time around Lincoln Road, a busy street less than a mile from the city centre.
Channel 4 News spent the day there and many of the girls and boys we spoke to described seeing the group hanging out on street corners. In the park where much of the abuse focused, we met a teenager who said he knew of one of the boys and recalled what he saw on one occasion:
“There was this one girl, and around 20 people, and she was giving a ******* to everyone, apparently,” he said. “I think (the abuser) thought it’s kind of fun, a connection – a new experience maybe.”
The abuse only came to light because one of the girls was taken into care and told a social worker about what she’d experienced.
Hassan Abdulla was already known to police. One of the properties where he held parties was on Lincoln Road. The other was on an exposed suburban street. The gang were open, at times brazen.
Nikola chose to speak to Channel 4 News in the hope it would allow people to better understand what was going on in the mind of her ex-partner. She claims Hassan often threatened her with violence and she believes a disrespect for women fuelled the abuse.
Peterborough City Council said it had called for a serious case review.
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.”