Updated: Wednesday, 26th February 2020 @ 11:54am

'Sex ring' gang: Nine men convicted after 'systematically raping and passing round' young girls in Greater Manchester's biggest child exploitation case

'Sex ring' gang: Nine men convicted after 'systematically raping and passing round' young girls in Greater Manchester's biggest child exploitation case

By Dean Wilkins

Nine men involved in a Rochdale ‘sex ring’ were convicted as part of Greater Manchester Police’s biggest investigation into child exploitation today.

The men are part of 11 who are accused of systematically raping, abusing and grooming five teenage girls, aged between 13 and 17, over the course of several years and will be sentenced tomorrow.

The men plied their young vulnerable victims with alcohol, food and money in return for sex and in some cases the victims were beaten if they did not agree to have sex – others were so drunk they were unaware of what was being done.

One of the victims told police: "At first I was scared, then after that it just didn't bother me anymore.

“At first I felt dead bad and horrible, but then I didn't feel anything."

Kabeer Hassan, 25, Abdul Aziz, 41, Abdul Rauf, 43, Mohammed Sajid, 35, Adil Khan, 42, Abdul Qayyum, 43, Mohammed Amin, 44, Qamar Shahzad, 29, Liaquat Shah, 41 Hamid Safi, 22, and a 59-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, all denied conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children under the age of 16.

Mohammed Shahzad, 40, is still being hunted by police for rape and has not been seen since June 15 2011.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Mike Sanderson, of the Public Protection Division, said: "The victims were passed around and abused repeatedly.

"They preyed on the fact that the young girls were extremely vulnerable and impressionable. Bombarded with a constant stream of attention and flattery, some of these victims genuinely thought these men were their boyfriends and they were in 'grown up' relationships.”

He added: "I must stress however that without the bravery of the victims none of these men would have been brought before the courts."

The case, involving Asian men and white girls, sparked many protests by far-right groups however police insisted that the attacks were not ‘racially motivated’.

Forty-seven witnesses provided information which led to the convictions of the men, and more than 50 potential offenders were questioned.

Detective Chief Superintendent Mary Doyle, Head of GMP's Public Protection Division, said: "Child sex exploitation is something that parents and carers everywhere should be aware of. It can be committed by all ethnicities and against boys as well as girls.

"This type of offending is about older men and women taking advantage of vulnerable young people for their own sexual gratification.

"I want to take this opportunity to implore all parents and carers to talk to their children. Take an active interest in what they are doing and warn them not to go off with strangers, no matter how tempting it might seem.

"Parents and guardians also need to educate their children about what are acceptable relationships and how their children’s relationships should be ‘age appropriate’.

"Like many cases of exploitation, the victims in this investigation did not recognise that they are being exploited and sometimes confuse what is exploitation and what is genuine affection.

"In many cases they naively believed they were somehow exploiting the men, rather than the other way round.”

Qamar Shazad and Liaquat Shah both of Rochdale, were acquitted of all charges and walked free from court.

Anyone who is concerned about a child or young person should call Greater Manchester Police on 101 or 999 in emergencies.

You can also call the NSPCC on 0800 800 5000. Any child or young person wanting help and advice can use the numbers above or contact Childline on 0800 1111.

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