'He thought he was untouchable': Top cop's reaction as Sunderland serial rapist Omar Sharif is caged
Serial Sunderland rapist Omar Sharif thought he was 'untouchable', a senior police officer has said.
The 24-year-old is today behind bars after being sentenced to 32-and-a-half-years imprisonment with an extended five-year licence period after being found guilty of four charges of rape against three teenage victims and one count of sexual assault as well as a number of drug offences.Sharif was brought to justice under Operation Argon - a victim-focused investigation led by Northumbria Police's specialist Safeguarding team aims to protect the most vulnerable in society.
Lead investigator, Acting Superintendent Claire Wheatley, said she hoped the sentencing would help bring some closure to the victims – and send out a strong message to other offenders.
She said: "These women have been incredibly brave and have been supported throughout the investigation by officers from our dedicated victim team. I hope today they feel a sense of justice and relief after giving evidence at two trials after the first collapsed because of Sharif's lies. "He is a manipulative man who knew what he was doing. He preyed on young, vulnerable women he thought would never report him. He thought he was untouchable and he thought he could lie his way out of everything. He failed and today he will now begin a 37-year sentence behind bars, where he belongs."I want to reassure any others victims of sexual abuse to please come forward and report it. We are here to take action and give victims a voice – no-one should suffer in silence.
"Anyone who comes forward to report abuse of this nature will be treated with compassion by specialist officers and will be supported throughout.
"We all have a role to play in helping tackle these awful crimes which prey on the most vulnerable. I would urge anyone who sees something suspicious to report it to police. This can be done on the 101 number or 999 in an emergency."
Three other people were also convicted as part of the operation:* Milagros Simona Sanchez, 25, of Chester Road, Sunderland, previously admitted to allowing her property to be used for the supply of drugs and was given an 12 month community order.
* Sharif’s brother Amer, 20, of Brunton Terrace, Sunderland, denied doing acts tending or intending to pervert the course of justice after being accused of helping to try to coerce a woman into making a false statement about one of the victims. He was found guilty at trial and was given a 12 months sentence, suspended for 18 months. * James Sykes, 22, Larchwood, Harraton, Washington, was sentenced to 12 months suspended for 12 months for concern in the supply of MDMA.
Anyone who has any concerns around potentially vulnerable people being exploited should contact police on 101 or 999 in an emergency. For more information about spotting the signs of sexual exploitation, search 'Northumbria Police What Are The Signs'.