Rotherham abuse trial: Taxi boss ‘does not know’ girl he is accused of raping and prostituting

Qurban Ali

Qurban Ali

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A former Rotherham taxi boss has denied knowing a teenage girl he is accused of raping, plying with heroin and prostituting to other men.

Qurban Ali, who is on trial alongside his nephews Arshid and Basharat Hussain and four other defendants, told a jury at Sheffield Crown Court he had never met a teenage girl who has accused of him of participating in her abuse while she was living in the home of fellow accused Karen MacGregor.

Ali, 53, of Clough Road, Masbrough, denies one count each of indecent assault, rape, procuring a girl under 21 to have unlawful sexual intercourse with another and conspiracy to rape in relation to one now-adult woman, known as Girl B.

The offences are said to have occurred between October 1993 and 1995.

Ali, who used to own Speedline Taxis, said he was ‘not close’ to either Arshid or Basharat Hussain.

He said never been involved in the trafficking of any girl and said the person who has accused him may have recognised him from when he worked as a taxi operator in the town centre.

The court heard the complainant had picked him out in an identification parade.

“She has been hanging around my office,” he said.

“I don’t know her.”

One of the allegations made against Ali, who the prosecution say was known as ‘Blind Ash’, was that he drove the girl to Sheffield to have sex with a man.

He said due to being partially sighted, he had never passed a driving test or driven a vehicle.

Ali said he was not aware people had referred to him as ‘Blind Ash’.

Michelle Colborne QC, prosecuting, said there was no other person known as ‘Blind Ash’.

He said: “There might be, I don’t know.”

The court also heard further evidence from Karen MacGregor, who is accused of befriending vulnerable girls before pimping them out for sex with Asian men.

During cross-examination, she accepted she visited one of her alleged victims in a children’s home.

MacGregor said that a woman called ‘Kaz’ recorded in documents as visiting a Rotherham children’s home to see the girl ‘had to be me’.

But in cross-examination at Sheffield Crown Court, MacGregor insisted she could not recall that incident or other recorded occasions where she had gone to the see Girl B in children’s homes in the mid-1990s.

MacGregor, 58, of Barnsley Road, Wath, said she could not remember ever meeting the now 36-year-old woman, despite making attempts to do so since being arrested.

Michelle Colborne QC, prosecuting, said MacGregor was ‘lying’.

MacGregor said: “You can suggest as much as you want. I can’t recall going to the children’s home. I can’t recall this girl.

“I wanted to go to a hypnotist but was told not to.”

The woman, known as Girl B, alleges she lived with MacGregor as a teenager and said she was made to have sex with men in exchange for heroin.

Evidence from all the defendants in the case has now finished.

The jury was told they will hear closing speeches from the prosecution and defence barristers next week before Judge Sarah Wright sums up the evidence in the trial, which started in December.