'Targeted because they were not part of your community or religion': Judge blasts sex grooming gang 'driven by lust and greed' as they are jailed for total of 77 years
Judge says nine-strong gang partly preyed on five girls, aged between 13 and 15, because they were from different 'community and religion' | Ringleader, 59, banned from court for calling judge a 'racist b******' | Judge Gerald Clifton dismisses defendants' claims that prosecution was 'triggered by race' | Opportunity to catch the paedophiles missed after complaint four years ago | As many as 47 vulnerable girls were plied with alcohol, gifts and money | They were then passed around for sex with 'several men a day' | At least one victim forced to have sex with 20 men in one night, police say | Former Labour MP Ann Cryer says gang were left to it because police feared being branded racist | Muslim leader warns that some British Pakistani men 'think that white teenage girls are worthless and can be abused without a second thought' | Labour MP Keith Vaz warns against opening Pandora's Box over race relations by blaming a particular race or religion for grooming girls
Graham Smith & Martin Robinson | UPDATED: 15:35 GMT, 9 May 2012 | Daily Mail
A judge today said nine men preyed on white girls as young as 13 for sex 'because they were not part of your community or religion' as he jailed them for a total of 77 years.
The men, all but one originally from Pakistan, were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court after they were convicted of luring up to 47 girls into sex with drink, drugs, fast food and free taxi rides over a number of years.
One girl was subjected to a horrific ordeal when she was raped by 20 men in a single night.
Opening his sentencing remarks, Judge Gerald Clifton said: 'All of you treated (the victims) as though they were worthless and beyond respect.
'One of the factors leading to that was the fact that they were not part of your community or religion.
'Some of you, when arrested, said it was triggered by race. That is nonsense. What triggered this prosecution was your lust and greed.'
The hearing took place amid tight security with police standing guard in the courtroom and around the building amid fears of a large demonstration or disruption by far-Right groups.
The ringleader, a 59-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed for a total of 19 years for conspiracy, two counts of rape, aiding and abetting a rape, sexual assault and a count of trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation.
The defendant was previously banned from court because of his threatening behaviour and for calling the judge a 'racist b******'.
Simon Nichol, defending, earlier said that his client did not wish to attend the sentencing hearing and had ordered the barrister not to put any mitigation before the judge on his behalf.
Mr Nichol said: 'He has objected from the start for being tried by an all white jury and subsequent events have confirmed his fears.
'He does not take back any of the comments he has made to your honour, to the jury, or to anyone else in the court during the course of the trial.
'He believes his convictions have nothing to do with justice but result from the faith and the race of the defendants.
'He further believes that society failed the girls in this case before the girls even met them and now that failure is being blamed on a weak minority group.'
The judge called the defendant an 'unpleasant and hypocritical bully'.
Takeaway worker Kabeer Hassan, 25, of Oldham, Greater Manchester, was jailed for nine years for rape and three years, concurrently, for the conspiracy conviction.
The 59-year-old ordered the first victim to have sex with Hassan as a 'treat' for his birthday. He raped the girl, who was then aged 15.
Taxi driver Abdul Aziz, 41, of Rochdale, was sentenced to nine years for conspiracy and nine years, concurrently, for trafficking for sexual exploitation.
The married father-of-three took over from the 59-year-old as the main trafficker of the victims and was paid by various men to supply girls for sex.
Married father-of-five Abdul Rauf, 43, of Rochdale, was jailed for six years for conspiracy and six years, concurrently, for trafficking for sexual exploitation.
The religious studies teacher at a local mosque asked a 15-year-victim if she had any younger friends and would drive some of the girls to other men, who would use them for sex, despite knowing they were underage.
Mohammed Sajid, 35, of Rochdale, was sentenced to 12 years for rape, six years for conspiracy, one year for trafficking and six years, all concurrent, for sexual activity with a child.
Known as 'Saj', he would regularly ply victims with alcohol before having sex with them at his flat, where groups of men would gather and 'pass around' the girls. He will be deported back to Pakistan following the conclusion of his sentence.
Adil Khan, 42, of Rochdale, was given eight years for conspiracy and eight years, concurrently, for trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Khan, who is married with one child, fathered the child of a 13-year-old victim who believed she was in love with him.
Mohammed Amin, 45, of Rochdale, was sentenced to five years for conspiracy and 12 months, concurrently, for sexual assault.
He was a driver for Eagle Taxis for 14 years and was known as 'Car Zero'. He is married with school aged children.
Abdul Qayyum, 44, of Rochdale, was jailed for five years for conspiracy. He was a driver for Streamline Taxis in Middleton, Greater Manchester, and was known by the name 'Tiger'.
Illegal immigrant Hamid Safi, 22, of no fixed address, was jailed for four years for conspiracy and one year, concurrently, for trafficking.
He sneaked into the UK on a lorry in 2008 and claimed to have fled Afghanistan because his uncle was murdered by the Taliban. He was released from a detention centre in Birmingham in March 2009 when he moved to Rochdale.
Safi will be deported back to Afghanistan following his sentence.
Judge Clifton said the men had been convicted for their 'grave' sexual offences, which involved 'grooming and sexually exploiting' several young girls.
He said: 'In some cases those girls were raped callously, viciously and violently.
'Most of you were many years older than they were.
'They were going through a period in their lives full of difficulty and misery. One had left her parents' home, another had been in care for many years.
'You attracted them to your company by flattery, free food, and alcohol.
'Some of you acted to satiate your lust, some to make money out of them.
'All of you treated them as though they were worthless and beyond all respect.'
The sentencing came after former Labour MP for Keighley Ann Cryer today said that the authorities ignored complaints about them because they were 'petrified of being called racist'.
These innocent girls were ultimately 'betrayed' and left to live lives of 'untold misery,' because of political correctness, she said.
'This is an absolute scandal. They were petrified of being called racist and so reverted to the default of political correctness,' she said.
'They had a greater fear of being perceived in that light than in dealing with the issues in front of them.'
Speaking to MailOnline the former MP said that for more than a decade she was dealing with the problem, and said police fear being seen as racist so may avoid difficult crimes like those carried out by the Rochdale gang.
'Forces have been accused of being institutionally racist. That sort of thing sticks,' she said.
'If you do say things like that about any police force then they will be majorly careful to avoid being being put in line for criticism like that. It may well be that they then steer clear of the tragic events that we are talking about. All because they want to be politically correct.
'Ten years ago I was dealing with cases like this in my area but Greater Manchester police say they knew nothing about it.'
But chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz claims that the issue has nothing to do with race or being Asian.
'I do not believe it is a race issue,' he told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme.
'I think we do need to look into this but I think it’s quite wrong to stigmatise a whole community.
'These are vile crimes, we all agree they should go to jail. But it’s a big leap to suddenly go from that position to the position where you say "it is Asian men and Pakistani men".
'We shouldn’t be afraid to discuss this. It’s quite right that we should discuss it but those who do just discuss it, they ought to have evidence. What the BNP is saying is that this is a crime that is committed by Pakistani men and Asian men – that is wrong, that is where I say there ought to be caution.'
As many as 47 vulnerable girls were given alcohol, gifts and money before being passed around to have sex with ‘several men a day, several times a week’.
At least one victim was forced to have sex with 20 men in one night when she was drunk, police said. Two became pregnant as a result of their horrifying ordeal – one of whom was only 13 and had an abortion.
But it can be revealed that a golden opportunity to smash the ring was missed nearly four years ago after a 15-year-old girl told police she had been raped in 2008.
Over the next two years, dozens of white teenagers were abused by older men in the gang, which was centred around takeaways in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.
A review of the earlier case in 2010 sparked a wave of arrests and charges.
The case is the latest involving men of predominantly Asian origin picking up young girls for sex.
Former Home Secretary Jack Straw last year accused some Pakistani men of seeing white girls as ‘easy meat’ for sexual abuse following the jailing of another grooming gang in Derby. The latest case was conducted against a backdrop of racial politics.
Tensions were exploited by far-Right groups who waved anti-Muslim placards outside Liverpool Crown Court and marched on the takeaways named in the case three days after the trial started.
A barrister for the men was punched outside court by a protester, while tweets by BNP leader Nick Griffin sparked extraordinary claims – later dismissed – of a ‘mole’ inside the jury room.
Despite this, police were at pains to play down the racial element last night.
Detective Chief Superintendent Mary Doyle, of Greater Manchester Police, insisted that getting ‘hung up on race and ethnicity issues’ detracted from what was simple child sex abuse.
‘There is no evidence to say they were targeted because they were white,’ she said. ‘They were targeted because they were there.’
But some campaign groups argue that to tackle the problem it is vital to recognise that a minority within their community prey on young, white girls.
‘There is a particular problem with groups of Pakistani men who think white girls are worthless,’ said Mohammed Shafiq, director of the Ramadhan Foundation. ‘They think they can use and abuse these girls in this abhorrent sort of way and then discard them.’
The missed chance to save the girls came in August 2008 when the 15-year-old was arrested after smashing the counter at one of the takeaways.
She told officers that two men had subjected her to repeated sexual abuse, plying her with vodka before raping her.
One was the ringleader of the group – a 59-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons. But despite evidence which included DNA swabs from her underwear, a senior CPS lawyer ruled there was no prospect of conviction and the pair were never charged.
As a result, members of the gang were allowed to continue their abuse.
The investigation was only revived after Nazir Afzal was appointed chief crown prosecutor for North West England and examined the file.
Twelve men were arrested in 2010 but many of the girls were too scared to give evidence in court or regarded the men as their boyfriends despite the huge age gap. However five bravely agreed to testify against their abusers.
Girls who were reluctant to have sex were held down and raped, the court was told, while some deliberately drank themselves into oblivion to blot out what was happening.
One said she fell asleep after being given alcohol, waking to heavy breathing on her neck as she realised she was being raped.
Another gave evidence of being raped by two men while she was ‘so drunk she was vomiting over the side of the bed’. One 13-year-old victim became pregnant and had the child aborted.
Victims of the abuse were introduced to the men by an older white girl known as the ‘Honey Monster’. She didn’t face charges because lawyers considered her a victim of sexual grooming herself.
After the case, chief prosecutor Mr Afzal said he hadn’t had to think twice about reviewing the decision not to press charges and apologised to the girl who blew the whistle. ‘She was let down by the whole system,’ he said.
Former chief of prisons and head of children's charity Barnados Martin Narey said there was a clear link between Asian men and grooming in the north.
'Undeniably it seems to me, in the north there is a very significant over-representation of Asian men – frequently Pakistani men – in these terrible crimes,' he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
'My experience in running prisons for seven years is that sex offenders actually are overwhelmingly white and I think there’s a lot of evidence now that those guilty of online grooming are disproportionately white.
'But for this particular sort of crime, the street grooming and trafficking of girls in northern towns... there is very troubling evidence that Asians are overwhelmingly represented in the prosecutions for such offences. That is not to condemn a whole community – most Asians would absolutely abhor what we’ve seen in the last few days in the Rochdale trial.'
ISLAMIC LEADER: 'PAKISTANI COMMUNITY ELDERS IGNORED GROOMING'
The leader of the Ramadhan Foundation has accused Pakistani community elders of 'burying their heads in the sand' on the issue of on-street grooming.
Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the group, said police should not let the 'issue of race' stop them from addressing the issue.
The Ramadhan Foundation is a Manchester-based moderate Muslim youth group that works for 'peaceful co-existence and dialogue for all communities'.
Mr Shafiq said: 'There is a significant problem for the British Pakistani community, there is an over-representation amongst recent convictions in the crime of on-street grooming, 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.
'I urge the police and the councils not to be frightened to address this issue, there is a strong lesson that you cannot ignore race or be over sensitive.'
He added: 'I have been overwhelmed by the support the Ramadhan Foundation has been given by young people for our campaign on child grooming but concerned that community elders are once again burying their heads in the sand, this concerns us all and we must speak out.
'The community elders need to learn from the reaction of young people and reject any attempt to silence the reaction from our community.'
He said the police would need to 'reflect on their failures' in this case.
'Finally the far-Right and fascist movements are not welcome to Rochdale, we reject their division and hatred and it has no place in a tolerant and diverse society.
'We will learn lessons from this case but not allow outsiders to divide us,' Mr Shafiq added.
But Asian Labour MP Keith Vaz warned that blaming a particular race or religion for grooming young girls for sex risks opening up a Pandora's box over race relations.
Mr Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said the root causes of the criminality against young girls needs to be addressed and the focus taken off the ethnic origin, religion or geographical location of those involved.
Mr Shafiq also paid tribute to the bravery of the victims. 'Without their contribution justice would not have been possible,' he said.
'Today's guilty verdicts are to be welcomed and I hope the message goes out that if you engage in these crimes, you will be caught and brought to justice.
'These criminals have brought shame on themselves, their families and our community.'
» » » » [Daily Mail :: Channel 4]
Mohammed Shafiq: Race is central to Rochdale Grooming GangRapists; who consider white teenage girls as worthless bit.ly/KbghMp— Radical Honoursty (@WhiteRefugee) May 9, 2012