Three teens jailed over homophobic plot to lure and rob men via gay dating app
12 December 2019, 08:52 | Updated: 12 December 2019, 08:54
Three teens have been jailed for a string of robberies against men who believed they were meeting up with someone they’d matched with via a dating app.
Three teenagers from the West Midlands have been jailed for a total of more than 37 years after carrying "sickening attacks" on four gay men in order to rob them.
Speaking about their fear and trauma since the sickening attacks, the court heard a number of victim impact statements.
One victim said: "Since my attack the impact of what happened has taken many forms, first was the shock of being knocked to the ground, then the terror of being bound and threatened with being stabbed. As the punches hit my head and face I was expecting to be stabbed at any moment, it felt like hours as I was forced to lay face down in the dirt with my hands and legs bound not knowing if I would ever see my family again."
The trio created fake profiles on Grindr, a dating app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people, to lure in men.
Mohammed Sohail Khan, Qaasim Ahmad and Muhammad Umar, all aged 18, used the profiles to communicate with men on the app to convince them to meet up, and over a period of three months arranged at least four fake dates with unsuspecting victims.
The three arranged to meet their dates in the Bordesley Green area of Birmingham, before attacking and restraining their victims and shouting anti-gay comments as they robbed them.
Police said one of the victims was spat on during his assault and once forensic officers did DNA testing they were able to match it to Muhammad Umar to a certainty of one in one billion.
Umar was swiftly arrested by officers and soon after Khan and Ahmad were quickly arrested as suspects soon after.
Officers found a haul of evidence on phones belonging to the three and when their homes were searched more evidence, including one victim's blood.
The trio were charged with conspiracy to rob, conspiracy to falsely imprison and conspiracy to burgle.
Both Khan and Umar pleaded guilty to both conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to rob − including false imprisonment.
And Ahmad was found guilty of all three crimes following a 13 day trial at Birmingham Crown Court.
On Wednesday they were sentenced to a combined total of more than 37 years in prison:
Qaasim Ahmad from Small Heath was sentenced to 13 years, four months
Mohammed Sohail Khan of Hay Mills to 13 years, four months
Muhammad Umar from Bordesley Green to 11 years, three months
All three will be subject to an extended licence period due to the severity of their crimes − which were treated as a homophobic hate crime from the outset and reflected as an aggravating factor in their sentences.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Ingram said: "This was a calculated series of robberies with Khan, Ahmad and Umar deliberately targeting gay men via the dating app Grindr, because they believed they were vulnerable, easy targets.
"My team gathered compelling evidence against the trio - who in police interview showed no remorse for what they had done, and seemingly had no grasp of the trauma they had subjected their victim to.
"I know it took the four victims, in this case, a huge amount of bravery and courage to come forward and support the criminal justice process through to trial - and I commend them for doing so.
"Their evidence enabled us to launch a full-scale investigation and build a strong case, which ultimately brought the offenders to justice, and has undoubtedly prevented many other people from becoming a victim.
"Unfortunately we suspect the defendants may have committed other offences before they were arrested, and many victims may not have reported what happened to them to police.
"I hope today’s outcome provides reassurance that we take these types of offences extremely seriously, and always do everything in our power to bring offenders to justice. Those found committing offences like this can expect to face a considerable length of time in prison.
"Naturally I would encourage anyone who has been subject to a similar ordeal to come forward and report it to police. All reports will be dealt with sensitively and victims will be supported by specially trained officers."
In a victim impact statement, one of those who was attacked spoke out and said they thought they were about to die in a "horrible way."
He said: "Every time something reminds me of the attack, it takes me to a bad place and it affects my sleep. I have ongoing bad dreams particular about the moment of despair I felt at one point during the attack where I thought I would die in a horrible way.
"It is the memory of the fear of having that screwdriver rammed in my eye, that moment where the young man was threatening to do that. During the past six months, there have been regular moments where I am taken back to that place. It can be watching television and seeing some violent scene in a drama or hearing about attacks on the news," the victim told the court.