LONDON: A group of nine men of Pakistani and Afghan origin were sentenced to jail on Thursday for grooming white British schoolgirls for sex, using drink and drugs.
The men, aged between 22 and 59, were convicted Wednesday of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children under the age of 16, and other offences.
Passing sentence at Liverpool Crown Court in northwest England, judge Gerald Clifton gave them prison terms ranging from four to 19 years.
Some of the girls were as young as 13 at the time.
“All of you treated them as though they were worthless and beyond any respect,” Clifton told the defendants.
“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.”
The abuse took place in the market town of Rochdale outside Manchester in northwest England.
Eight members of the gang were of Pakistani ethnic origin. They included taxi drivers, a takeaway worker and a religious studies teacher. Some were married fathers.
The other gang member was a 22-year-old Afghan illegal immigrant who will be deported once he has served his four-year sentence for conspiracy and trafficking.
Clifton said the group had been “grooming and sexually exploiting” several young girls.
“In some cases those girls were raped callously, viciously and violently,” the judge said.
“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.”
The man considered 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 Britain for sexual exploitation.
“He has objected from the start for being tried by an all-white jury and subsequent events have confirmed his fears,” his lawyer Simon Nichol said.
Mohammed Sajid, a 35-year-old who was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment, would ply victims with alcohol before having sex with them at his flat, where groups of men would gather and “pass around” the girls.
He will be deported to Pakistan after serving his sentence.
Adil Khan, a 42-year-old married father, made pregnant a 13-year-old victim who believed she was in love with him. Khan was jailed for eight years.