News Europe

Monday 22 January 2018

Asian gang becomes first convicted in Britain of sex trafficking

SIX members of an Asian gang who preyed on under-age white girls have become the first in Britain to be convicted of sex trafficking.

They and three other men used a one-time victim to recruit other girls so they could be driven to “chill” houses around the north of England for sordid sex.

Some of the teenagers had sex willingly, but others were raped by up to five men at a time.

The paedophiles who paid small sums of money for the frequently violent encounters were predominantly British Pakistanis.

Of the 11 defendants on trial at Liverpool Crown Court, 10 were Pakistani and the other an Afghan asylum seeker.

The gang, whose activities were centred on two takeaways in Heywood, Rochdale, Greater Manchester, used a 15-year-old white girl as their recruiter. Both restaurants are now under different ownership.

This teenager, nicknamed The Honey Monster, became the girlfriend of one of the gang and kept victims quiet with alcohol, food and small sums of money.

She often accompanied girls as young as 13 on journeys to such towns and cities as Rochdale, Oldham, Nelson, Bradford and Leeds. Sometimes she would be having sex with one man while a second raped another girl in the same room.

A 15-year-old became frightened of what The Honey Monster might do if she refused to have sex with the men. On one occasion, she told police, the older girl struck her.

Two of the gang eventually complained that they were “bored” with their recruiter and asked her to bring even younger girls”.

The defendants, aged between 22 and 59 and all from the Rochdale and Oldham areas of Greater Manchester, were known to each other in a variety of ways.

Some came from the same village in Pakistan, two worked at the same taxi firm and two at the same takeaway restaurant. Another pair shared a flat.

All 11 defendants denied engaging in sexual activity with under-age girls. Seven denied rape while six denied trafficking girls for sex within the UK.

A 12th man, Mohammed Shazad, 39, from Rochdale, was arrested with his alleged accomplices but absconded after being released on bail. He is still on the run.

The jury heard that all the victims were vulnerable teenagers from broken homes. One had been in care and she the others spent most of their days smoking, drinking and hanging around.

Rachel Smith, prosecuting, described them as “the sort of children who were easy to identify, target and exploit for the sexual gratification of these men”.

They had generally known their alleged abusers by such nicknames as “Immy”, “Cassie”, “Billy” and “Tiger”.

Greater Manchester Police had the chance to move in on the gang when their first victim she had twice been raped. But the force “regrettably” failed to take their investigation further.

It was another two years before they carried out a second wave of arrests that led to today’s convictions.

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