Date: 22/09/2019
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Gang 'exploited teenage girls'

From the Press Association, via the Preston Citizen

A gang targeted vulnerable teenage girls through social networking sites before sexually exploiting and gang-raping them, prosecutors have told a court. Five men are standing trial at Cambridge Crown Court accused of trafficking and raping eight girls who were aged between 13 and 16 at the time of the allegations, which date between 2008 and 2013.

Prosecutor Patricia Lynch told jurors that the girls were vulnerable not only because of their age but also their "difficult" social backgrounds.

Opening the case against the defendants, four of whom are Pakistani, she added: "This case involves the deliberate sexual exploitation of young vulnerable white girls by a group of older Asian men. These defendants singled out these girls because of their vulnerability. Contact started and continued through Facebook, Blackberry messaging, text messaging and mobile phones."

After being "chatted up" online, the victims would be collected from near their homes in towns and villages around Peterborough, Rutland and Lincolnshire before being driven to secluded spots in Peterborough, Ms Lynch said. Which shows that nowhere is safe. Rutland is England's smallest county; it's entirely rural and very picturesque.

She added that once they had gained their confidence and plied them with alcohol, the men, all from Peterborough, "passed the girls around" and used them as "sex objects." Some of the abuse. including degrading acts, was filmed on a mobile phone and jurors will be shown this footage.

Yasir Ali, 28, of Grange Road, denies six counts of rape, two of making indecent photographs of children, one of sexual activity in the presence of a child, seven of trafficking and one of witness intimidation.

Daaim Ashraf, 19, of Almoners Lane, denies three counts of rape, one of sexual assault, one of sexual activity with a child, one of sexual activity in the presence of a child, seven of trafficking and one of witness intimidation.

James Daly, 25, of Grange Road, denies one count of rape.

Mohammed Aslam, 24, of Grange Road, denies one count of rape and one of sexual activity in the presence of a child. He couldn't be named for legal reasons before the trial; obviously that has since changed. Picture from the Daily Mail

Ms Lynch added that Ali, the oldest of the defendants, was "undoubtedly the primary offender". Known to the girls as Mr Nice or his Facebook name Sketcher Piddocks, he is accused of initiating much of the contact. "...Their (the girls) very young age, their vulnerability, the grooming process and the use of alcohol negates any consent that they may have given. .."

Describing the experience of one of the victims, who had spent time in a young offenders' institute, Ms Lynch said that the first time she was raped, the girl was so drunk on vodka that she wanted to go to sleep. Ali had sex with her despite her saying she did not want to. She added that after the first time they had sex, Ali would cease to be an "attentive, loving boyfriend" and began "farming her out" to other men.

On one occasion, Ali's friend Daly forcibly removed her clothes before having sex with her against her wishes, Ms Lynch said. Ms Lynch added that later when the girl told Ali she was pregnant with his child, he called her a "slag" and assaulted her.

A second victim said she was raped by Ali in 2008 despite him knowing she was 15 and still at school. Two other girls, aged 14 at the time, were sexually assaulted by Yasin and Ashraf on the same night despite one of them being in the early stages of pregnancy.

Ms Lynch added that after the men were questionned by police, Ashraf and Ali threatened one of the girls, telling her that if the case went to court the defendants would "make their lives hell" and that their houses may be firebombed.

The case is expected to last up to eight weeks.