Groom­ing gang were ‘mon­sters’

Midweek Sport - - NEWS -

A VIC­TIM of a groom­ing gang that sex­u­ally abused vul­ner­a­ble girls de­scribed the men who got her ad­dicted to drugs as “mon­sters”.

An­other said she still had flash­backs to what hap­pened to her six years ago at par­ties – known as “ses­sions” – where girls were given drugs and then per­suaded or forced to have sex.

A third said the gang mem­bers put her down and thought “they are su­pe­rior to women, and girls do not have the same rights as men”.

The state­ments were read out dur­ing a sen­tenc­ing hear­ing at New­cas­tle Crown Court where three men were to be dealt with.

The prose­cu­tions fol­lowed the long-run­ning Op­er­a­tion Shel­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tion into sex­ual ex­ploita­tion, largely in New­cas­tle’s West End.

The in­quiry in­volved the con­tro­ver­sial use of a po­lice in­for­mant who was him­self a child rapist and was paid al­most £10,000 by Northum­bria Po­lice.

John Elvidge QC, pros­e­cut­ing, said girls were in­vited to par­ties and given al­co­hol and mephedrone.

He said: “The girls were ex­pected to of­fer sex­ual ser­vices in re­turn. The women... some­times con­sented, some­times did not con­sent and some­times were in­ca­pable of con­sent­ing.”

Mr Elvidge said the vic­tims who gave ev­i­dence in court were white Bri­tish and the de­fen­dants were “all of Asian extraction” and mostly Bri­tish-born.

But the au­thor­i­ties de­cided their of­fend­ing was not racially mo­ti­vated, he added.

Eight men were con­victed of con­spir­acy to in­cite pros­ti­tu­tion, while oth­ers pros­e­cuted were in­volved in sup­ply­ing drugs.

The pros­e­cu­tor de­scribed the con­spir­a­tors’ method as “cyn­i­cal and sys­tem­atic” in that they tricked vic­tims into be­liev­ing they were in a re­la­tion­ship with their abusers. In vic­tim state­ments, one called them “mon­sters” and said she no longer trusted men.

An­other said: “The way they tricked us into think­ing they were our friends was dis­gust­ing.”

Mo­hammed Azram, 35, picked up girls from a court­yard in the city’s West End known as “The Box”. One vic­tim said he took her to a party where she saw an­other girl be­ing treated like a slave.

Mr Elvidge said: “The wit­ness de­scribed her as look­ing up­set, she was dirty, the bed­clothes were dirty, her clothes were ripped.”

Azram ad­mit­ted a string of drugs of­fences and was con­victed of one count of sex­ual as­sault and one count of in­cit­ing pros­ti­tu­tion.

The sen­tenc­ing hear­ing and more gang mem­bers will be dealt with through­out the week.

ABUSERS: Nadeem As­lam, Mo­hammed Azram, Ab­dul Sabe and Ja­hangir Za­man

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