Woman guilty of luring 'vulnerable' girls into prostitution

image captionAmanda Spencer used the the money she made from the girls to pay for drugs

A woman who used drugs and alcohol to lure "weak and vulnerable" girls into a life of prostitution has been found guilty of running a child sex ring.

Amanda Spencer, from Sheffield, was aged 16 when she began befriending her victims - some as young as 13 - later forcing them to have sex for cash.

She used the money to fund her drug and alcohol addictions.

Spencer, now 23, was found guilty at Sheffield Crown Court of 16 counts relating to child prostitution.

She was cleared of seven other charges, including arranging or facilitating child prostitution, intentionally causing or inciting a person to become a prostitute, and one count of trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation.

The jury will resume deliberations on Friday regarding 15 remaining charges Spencer faces.

'Felt her wrath'

During a trial lasting more than two months, the jury heard Spencer deliberately targeted vulnerable girls in Sheffield.

Prosecutor Michelle Colborne QC said Spencer gave the girls alcohol and drugs and "when [they were] weak, introduced them to a life of prostitution".

"She hung around the town centre identifying and befriending vulnerable children.

"She made them feel loved, she gave them a shoulder to cry on, a friend who purported to understand whatever sadness they were experiencing in their lives and in turn lured them into a life of abuse, which she exploited and profited from."

Ms Colborne told jurors Spencer groomed the girls for abuse.

She said: "She told them how to dress more provocatively, to lie about their age and to close their minds to the reality of the sexual experiences, concentrating instead on the drugs.

"Those who had the temerity to refuse to do as they were instructed felt her wrath, she was violent and they were very frightened of her."

Between 2006 and 2011 Spencer befriended and exploited the girls, forcing them to have sex with men, both at her own flat and at other homes across South Yorkshire.

image copyrightJonathan Thacker
image captionThe trial at Sheffield Crown Court has last more than two months

One girl told the court she was forced into prostitution days after meeting Spencer in 2008.

Judge Michael Murphy QC said the girl had told police: "She [Spencer] used to take me to people's houses and sell me for money.

'Locked in room'

"If I did not do it she would beat me up and if I did she would get money and she would just go and get drugs. She used to do that every day and I used to fall for it because I used to take drugs as well."

The court heard that on one occasion the girl was locked in a room and forced to have sex with seven men in one night. When she refused Spencer punched her, giving her a black eye.

She estimated she was abused by 16 different men on up to 50 occasions over a period of about two years.

Spencer denied all the crimes of which she was accused, claiming her victims had either made up their accounts or that she had never met them.

Three men on trial with her were cleared of the charges they faced.

Lee Unwin, 26, was found not guilty of paying for the sexual service of a child; Kareem Ahmed, 29, was cleared of arranging or facilitating travel for the commission of a sexual offence; and Bashdar Hamadamin, 26, was found not guilty of rape.

Another man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been convicted of three counts of sexual assault.

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