Race ‘a co-incidence’ say police as child sex gang found guilty

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A gang of nine Asian men will be sentenced today after being found guilty of plying white girls as young as 13 with drink and drugs so they could “pass them around” and use them for sex.

The five teenagers were targeted by Kabeer Hassan, Abdul Aziz, Abdul Rauf, Mohammed Sajid, Adil Khan, Abdul Qayyum, Mohammed Amin, Hamid Safi and a 59-year-old man who cannot be named.

An 11-week trial at Liverpool Crown Court heard the men – who are all from Pakistan, apart from Safi who is from Afghanistan – groomed and “shared” the young white girls because they were vulnerable.

The offences happened in and around Rochdale in 2008 and 2009 and the trial, which was targeted by far-right groups, has re-ignited the debate over the alleged exploitation of young white girls by Asian men.

The father of one victim told the court he joined the BNP after he heard what had happened to her. But speaking after the hearing yesterday, police insisted there was no “racial or cultural” issue.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood, of Greater Manchester Police added; “ 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.”

Rachel Smith, for the prosecution, had told the jury the girls – aged between 13 and 15 – were given alcohol, food and money in return for sex but there were times when violence was used.

Only one of the girls was in care at the time of the abuse but all were said to have been known to social services and police said the victims were from “chaotic”, “council estate” backgrounds.

The abuse began at the Tasty Bites and the Balti House takeaways, both in Market Street in the Heywood area of Rochdale and which are both now under new management.

Another teenage girl, known by the victims as the Honeymonster, acted as a pimp and, though regarded as a friend, introduced them to the men and took payment.

Police interviewed 47 young girls from the area who they believed could have been victims.

And it emerged yesterday, the first victim, who was 15 when the abuse began, had told the police what had been happening to her in August 2008, detailing her abuse at the hands of the 59-year-old and Kabeer Hassan but her complaint was not taken seriously and the gang continued to prey on her until December 2008 when she fell pregnant and moved away.

In July 2009 a CPS lawyer compounded the failure and made the decision not to charge the two men because he did not think a jury would find her “credible”.

The CPS issued an apology and it was confirmed an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation had begun.

It took the jury of three men and nine women 21 hours and 22 minutes to reach all their verdicts. Judge Gerald Clifton adjourned sentencing until today.

The 59-year-old man was found guilty of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children under the age of 16, two counts of rape, aiding and abetting a rape, one count of sexual assault and an allegation of trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation.

Aziz, 41, of Rochdale was found guilty of conspiracy and trafficking for sexual exploitation; Hassan, 25, of Oldham, was found guilty of conspiracy and rape; Khan, 42, of Rochdale, was found guilty of conspiracy and trafficking for sexual exploitation; Rauf, 43, of Rochdale, was found guilty of conspiracy and trafficking for sexual exploitation; Sajid, 35, of Rochdale, was found guilty of conspiracy, trafficking, one count of rape and one count of sexual activity with a child; Qayyum, 44, of Rochdale, was found guilty of conspiracy; Amin, 45, of Rochdale, was found guilty of conspiracy and sexual assault; Safi, 22, of no fixed address, who was found guilty of conspiracy and trafficking but not guilty of two counts of rape.