1. ITV Report

Gang guilty after vulnerable girls exploited and abused in Newcastle

From L-R: Asad Ribas, Azisi Soran, Obaid Saman and Pour Palla Credit: Northumbria Police

Four men are facing prison sentences after vulnerable women and girls were abused after being exploited and trafficked.

Newcastle Crown Court was told how victims, some as young as 13, were lured to parties where alcohol and drugs were freely available, before being expected to provide sexual favours and services in return.

The court heard that some of the sexual acts were carried out consensually by the victims in return for "rewards" of drink and drugs.

But prosecutor Anne Richardson told the court the victims were "forced" at other times, or were so intoxicated they were unable to consent to what happened to them.

She added the women and girls were treated as "commodities" and passed around various men, sometimes believing they were in relationships with their abusers.

After a month-long trial, four men were convicted on Friday of offences including sexual assault, trafficking and drugs supply:

  • Soran Azizi, 28, of Whickham Street, Byker, has been convicted of two offences of trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation.
  • Palla Pour, 25, of West Farm Wyne, Longbenton, has been convicted of four offences of sexual activity with a child, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, supplying controlled drug to another and permitting his premises to be used for the supply of drugs.
  • Ribas Asad, 29, of Cruddas Park, Newcastle, has been convicted of sexual assault, paying for the sexual, supplying a controlled drug, causing a child to engage in sexual activity and sexual activity with a child.
  • Saman Obaid, 26, of Felton Walk, Byker, was convicted of four offences of supplying controlled drugs.

The latest court case joins the many which have taken place as part of Operation Sanctuary; one of Northumbria Police's biggest operations of its kind looking at the sexual exploitation of children and vulnerable young women across the region.

Northumbria Police welcomed today's guilty verdict.

This is not something the public should feel alarmed about but more reassured that we are proactively seeking victims and working with communities to eradicate this behaviour of offending.

This is not just about seeking justice for victims currently being abused. This is an excellent example of how we will investigate any suspected exploitation – recent or non-recent.

We want to ensure there is a repugnant stigma associated with sexual exploitation in all communities and in particular against individuals who think this treatment of women and girls is in any way acceptable.

Safeguarding is everyone’s business and we need people to be our eyes and ears of the community.

– Detective Superintendent Steve Barron

All four men will be sentenced on October 30 and have been remanded in custody.