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Nine guilty over child sex ring

A gang of nine Asian men has been found guilty of plying white girls as young as 13 with drink and drugs so they could "pass them around" and use them for sex.

But police investigating the gang's crimes denied there was a "racial or cultural" issue and said it was about adults abusing vulnerable children.

A chance to stop the gang was missed in 2008 by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), who have apologised for their failings.

The five girls were targeted by Kabeer Hassan, Abdul Aziz, Abdul Rauf, Mohammed Sajid, Adil Khan, Abdul Qayyum, Mohammed Amin, Hamid Safi and a 59-year-old man who cannot be named, Liverpool Crown Court was told.

The 11 week trial heard that the men - who are all from Pakistan, apart from Safi who is from Afghanistan - groomed and "shared" the young white girls because they were vulnerable.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood, of Greater Manchester Police said: "It is not a racial issue. This is about adults preying on vulnerable young children. It just happens that in this particular area and time the demographics were that these were Asian men."

He added: "The street grooming issue is about vulnerability and who has access to that vulnerability."

A spokeswoman for the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre said child sexual exploitation spanned "all cultures and ethnicities".

But she added: "These cases do highlight that Asian males have been involved in an organised manner in exploiting young women. Some of these cases involved offenders from different backgrounds as well, although CEOP are investigating why there may be a majority of Asians in these particular kinds of offence."

It took the jury of three men and nine women 21 hours and 22 minutes to reach all their verdicts. Judge Gerald Clifton adjourned sentencing until Wednesday.