Rochdale grooming trial: Nine found guilty of child sex charges
Nine men have been convicted of being part of a child sexual exploitation ring in Greater Manchester.
The men, from Rochdale and Oldham, "groomed" girls, one as young as 13.
Liverpool Crown Court heard the men plied their victims with drink and drugs so they could "pass them around" and use them for sex.
The case, involving Asian defendants and white victims, sparked protests by far-right groups but police insist the grooming was not "racially motivated".
The offences which centred on Heywood included rape, trafficking girls for sex and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child.
Two of the defendants on trial, Qamar Shazad and Liaquat Shah both of Rochdale, were acquitted and walked free from court.
The court was told that the abuse, which began in 2008, took place at two takeaways in the town involving a group of men aged between 24 and 59. The takeaways are now under new management.
A failed police investigation in 2008 allowed the abuse to go undetected for another two years.
The oldest defendant, a 59-year-old man from Oldham was found guilty on all counts but cannot be identified for legal reasons.
Some of the girls were beaten and forced to have sex with "several men in a day, several times a week", the jury was told.
One teenager told the jury she was forced to have sex with 20 men in one night.
Another recalled being raped by two men while she was "so drunk she was vomiting over the side of the bed".
'Incapacitated by alcohol'
Police said the victims were from "chaotic", "council estate" backgrounds. The girls were targeted in "honeypot locations" where young people were seen to congregate, such as outside takeaways.
Rachel Smith, for the prosecution, told the jury: "No child should be exploited as these girls say they were."
In court, many of the defendants argued that they were not aware the girls were underage.
But Senior Investigating Officer Det Insp Mike Sanderson said this was no defence.
"What we are dealing with here is the deliberate targeting of young, vulnerable girls by a group of older and in most cases much older men who simply saw them as 'fair game'.
"They preyed on the fact that the young girls were extremely vulnerable and impressionable."
Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of of the Ramadhan Foundation, accused Pakistani community elders of "burying their heads in the sand" on the issue of on-street grooming.
"There is a significant problem for the British Pakistani community," he said.
"There should be no silence in addressing the issue of race as this is central to the actions of these criminals.
"They think that white teenage girls are worthless and can be abused without a second thought; it is this sort of behaviour that is bringing shame on our community."
But Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) denied that the ethnicity of either the defendants or the victims was a factor.
"It is not a racial issue," he said. "This is about adults preying on vulnerable young children.
"It just happens that in this particular area and time the demographics were that these were Asian men."
It was also revealed in court that a 15-year-old victim who became pregnant by one of the defendants went to the police in August 2008.
After the verdicts, GMP and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) apologised for failing to bring her case to trial following her cry for help.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is spearheading an investigation into that failed inquiry.
It can also now be reported that the trial was delayed by two weeks when two Asian barristers quit saying they had been intimidated outside Liverpool Crown Court.
All those convicted were found guilty of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with girls under the age of 16.
A 59-year-old Oldham man - who cannot be identified for legal reasons - was convicted of two rapes, aiding and abetting rape, sexual assault and trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
- Kabeer Hassan, 25, of Lacrosse Avenue, Oldham, was convicted of one count of rape.
- Abdul Aziz, 41, of Armstrong Hurst Close, Rochdale, was also convicted of trafficking for sexual exploitation but cleared of one charge of rape.
- Abdul Rauf, 43, of Darley Road and Adil Khan, 42, of Oswald Street, both of Rochdale, were convicted of trafficking a child within the UK for sexual exploitation.
- Mohammed Sajid, 35, of Jephys Street, Rochdale, was convicted of one count of rape, sexual activity with a girl under 16 and trafficking for sexual exploitation but not guilty of a second charge of rape.
- Mohammed Amin, 45, of Falinge Road, Falinge, was convicted of sexual assault.
- Hamid Safi, 22, of Tweedale Street, Rochdale, was convicted of trafficking girls for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
- Abdul Qayyum, 44, of Ramsay Street, Rochdale, was convicted of the conspiracy charge.
- Qamar Shahzad, 30, of Tweedale Street, Rochdale was found not guilty of conspiracy and acquitted.
- Liaqat Shah, 42, of Kensington Street, Rochdale, was cleared of two charges of rape and the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the conspiracy allegation.