Man found with naked teenager in Cooper Bridge may face sentence extension

Police tape.
Police tape.

Justice Secretary David Gauke may be asked to review an “overly-lenient” sentence given to a man who was found with a naked teenage girl in his car.

In the wake of the child sexual exploitation scandal in Huddersfield the town’s MP Barry Sheerman says he is looking “in detail” at the case of Zakariyya Akram.

His comments come as Kirklees Council has asked Home Secretary Sajid Javid to launch an inquiry into the grooming scandal.

Akram, 35, of Thornton Lodge Road in Thornton Lodge, was given a 16-week sentence by magistrates in Huddersfield following the incident in his car at Cooper Bridge, near Mirfield.

Police who swooped on an unmarked track in the early hours of September 25 found the 17-year-old girl in the footwell of Akram’s black Vauxhall Corsa.

The victim, described as “a looked-after child”, was naked and appeared under the influence or drink or drugs. Akram was half-naked.

The court heard that the teenager had previously told her care worker Akram and his friends were going to rape her.

In the aftermath of the grooming scandal that has tainted Huddersfield’s reputation, Mr Sheerman has warned of the dangers of “wholly inappropriate” relationships between grown men and teenage girls.

Having been appraised of the details of the Akram case Mr Sheerman said he was considering whether to ask Mr Gauke to review the sentence.

He said: “Taking advantage of young women is against the law. Anyone doing so should be punished and punished according to the law.

“A relationship between a 35-year-old man and a teenage girl is wholly inappropriate whatever the sentence.

“When will older men learn? They should stop.

“I will look at all the full facts in detail and if I feel that the sentence is overly lenient I will refer it to the Justice Secretary to be reviewed.”

Prosecutor Lydia Pearce described the victim as being at a “high risk of sexual exploitation”.

Mitigating, Mohammed Rafiq said Akram and the teenager knew one another.

Magistrates jailed Akram for 16 weeks and warned him not to contact the victim until she reaches the age of 18 as a child abduction notice, issued by police in May, remains in place.

The Labour-led Kirklees Council intends is to invite Home Secretary Sajid Javid to investigate the campaign of rape and abuse carried out by grooming gangs.

But it has been criticised by Conservatives for expanding the scope of the inquiry to look at the whole of England, effectively diluting scrutiny of what occurred in the borough.