Nine Asian men convicted of sexually exploiting teenage girls were jailed for a total of 77 years today as a judge told them they had treated their victims as “worthless and beyond respect”.
In a trial which has enflamed tensions in the North West Judge Gerald Clifton dismissed some of the men’s claims that the prosecution against them was racially motivated.
He said one of the reasons they had committed the crimes was because the victims were “not part of your community or religion”.
Passing sentence Judge Clifton said the gang had preyed on vulnerable young people and that they were driven by “lust and greed”. He said: "In some cases those girls were raped callously, viciously and violently.”
A 59-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, received 19 years while Abdul Aziz, 41, Abdul Rauf, 43, Mohammed Sajid, 35, Mohammed Amin, 45, Abdul Qayyum, 44, Adil Khan, 42, Kabeer Hassan, 25 and Hamid Safi, 22, were jailed for between four and nine years for numerous offences.
In mitigation counsel for the defence, which had sought a retrial over claims that the all-white jury was demonstrating a far-right bias, variously described the men as “industrious” and had now “lost everything”.
But the judge rejected the assertions describing their crimes as “repugnant” and accusing the ringleader of being a “hypocritical bully”.
He praised the jury of nine women and three men. “I, and the people of Britain, must be thankful for the painstaking care that you took in the trial. I want you to go home and hold your heads high," he added.
But on a day which saw another demonstration far right groups outside Liverpool Crown Court, Alias Yousaf, solicitor for Adil Khan, said he would be launching an appeal.
Mr Yousaf said extremists had tried to influence the trial from the beginning. He also asked why no one had been arrested in connection with an alleged assault on a defence barrister at the start of the case.
MPs will launch an inquiry next month into grooming in an attempt to establish the prevalence of sexual abuse of girls and young women.
Members of the Commons home affairs select committee are planning to visit cities and towns in the north of England, including Rochdale where the offences occurred.
Officers from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre will initially give evidence to the committee. They are expected to be followed by police chiefs, youth workers and community leaders from the north of England.
The Labour MP for Rochdale, Simon Danczuk, today claimed a "sub-culture" of Asian men were responsible for the exploitation.
Meanwhile it is understood Greater Manchester Police are to question other men in connection with allegations linked to the trial.