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'Lust and greed' of child sex gang

A gang of nine Asian men who groomed white girls as young as 13 with drink and drugs were driven by "lust and greed", a judge has said.

The men are being sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court after being convicted of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children under the age of 16 and other offences.

The hearing was taking place amid tight security with police standing guard in the courtroom and around the building amid fears of a large demonstration or disruption by far-right groups. In the event fewer than a dozen BNP members gathered outside the court building holding placards and shouting towards television crews and press photographers.

Opening his sentencing remarks, Judge Gerald Clifton told them: "All of you treated (the victims) as though they were worthless and beyond respect."

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 b******".

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. "He has objected from the start for being tried by an all-white jury and subsequent events have confirmed his fears," Mr Nichol said. "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".

Takeaway worker Kabeer Hassan, 25, of Lacrosse Avenue, Oldham, Greater Manchester, was jailed for nine years for rape and three years, concurrently, for the conspiracy conviction. The 59-year-old ordered the first victim to have sex with Hassan as a "treat" for his birthday. He raped the girl, who was then aged 15. Taxi driver Abdul Aziz, 41, of Armstrong Hurst Close, Rochdale, was sentenced to nine years for conspiracy and nine years, concurrently, for trafficking for sexual exploitation. The married father of three took over from the 59-year-old as the main trafficker of the victims and was paid by various men to supply girls for sex.

Married father of five Abdul Rauf, 43, of Darley Road, Rochdale, was jailed for six years for conspiracy and six years, concurrently, for trafficking for sexual exploitation. The religious studies teacher at a local mosque asked a 15-year-victim if she had any younger friends and would drive some of the girls to other men, who would use them for sex, despite knowing they were under age. Mohammed Sajid, 35, of Jepheys Street, Rochdale, 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. Known as "Saj", he would regularly 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 back to Pakistan following the conclusion of his sentence.

Adil Khan, 42, of Oswald Street, Rochdale, was given eight years for conspiracy and eight years, concurrently, for trafficking for sexual exploitation. Khan, who is married with one child, fathered the child of a 13-year-old victim who believed she was in love with him. Mohammed Amin, 45, of Falinge Road, Rochdale, was sentenced to five years for conspiracy and 12 months, concurrently, for sexual assault. He was a driver for Eagle Taxis for 14 years and was known as "Car Zero". He is married with school aged children.

Abdul Qayyum, 44, of Ramsay Street, Rochdale, was jailed for five years for conspiracy. He was a driver for Streamline Taxis in Middleton, Greater Manchester, and was known by the name "Tiger". Illegal immigrant Hamid Safi, 22, of no fixed address, was jailed for four years for conspiracy and one year, concurrently, for trafficking. He sneaked into the UK on a lorry in 2008 and claimed to have fled Afghanistan because his uncle was murdered by the Taliban. He was released from a detention centre in Birmingham in March 2009 when he moved to Rochdale. Safi will be deported back to Afghanistan following his sentence.

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