A gang of nine Asian men who groomed white girls as young as 13 with drink and drugs have been sentenced today.
The men were convicted yesterday of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children under the age of 16 and other offences.
– Judge Gerald Clifton
All of you treated (the victims) as though they were worthless and beyond any 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.
Judge Clifton said the men had been convicted for their their "grave" sexual offences, which involved "grooming and sexually exploiting" several young girls.
– Judge Gerald Clifton
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.
Judge Clifton told the defendants the sentences he was about to pass "applied to all defendants, be they white or Asian".
The hearing at Liverpool Crown Court took place amid tight security with police standing guard in the courtroom and around the building as large demonstrations from far right protesters were expected.
In the event around 20 British National Party members gathered outside the court building holding placards and shouting towards television crews and press photographers.
All twelve members of the jury returned to court to hear the sentences passed today.
The man seen as 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 bastard".
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.
– Simon Nichol, defending
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".
The other sentences passed today were:
- Kabeer Hassan, 25, was jailed for nine years for rape and three years, concurrently, for the conspiracy conviction.
- Abdul Aziz, 41, was sentenced to nine years for conspiracy and nine years, concurrently, for trafficking for sexual exploitation.
- Abdul Rauf, 43, was jailed for six years for conspiracy and six years, concurrently, for trafficking for sexual exploitation.
- Mohammed Sajid, 35, 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.
- Adil Khan, 42, was given eight years for conspiracy and eight years, concurrently, for trafficking for sexual exploitation.
- Mohammed Amin, 45, was sentenced to five years for conspiracy and 12 months, concurrently, for sexual assault.
- Abdul Qayyum, 44, was jailed for five years for conspiracy.
- Hamid Safi, 22, was jailed for four years for conspiracy and one year, concurrently, for trafficking.
Earlier, Martin Narey, the former chief executive of children's charity Barnardo's, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme, there was "troubling evidence that Asians" represent a large amount of prosecutions in grooming cases.
– Martin Narey
For this particular sort of crime, the street grooming and trafficking of girls in northern towns - Derby, Leeds, Blackpool, Blackburn, Oldham, Rochdale - there is very troubling evidence that Asians are overwhelmingly represented in prosecutions for such offences.
That is not to condemn a whole community, most Asians would absolutely abhor what we have seen in the last few days in the Rochdale trial, and I don't think this is about white girls.
It's sadly because vulnerable girls on the street at night are generally white rather than more strictly-parented Asian girls, but there is a real problem here.