*MKILETEWA HAPA NA MISS FB FLORA BAHATI LYIMO*
Nine men were today found guilty of grooming and passing round vulnerable white schoolgirls aged between 13 and 15 for sex after plying them with alcohol and drugs.
Five girls were 'shared' 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 for legal reasons.
The ten-week trial was told that the men - who are all from Pakistan, some from the same village, apart from Safi who is from Afghanistan - groomed the teenage girls because they were vulnerable and from broken homes,
Evil: Abdul Qayyum, left, 44, was found guilty of conspiracy. Mohammed Amin, right, 45, was found guilty of conspiracy and sexual assault;
The jury of three men and nine women heard that the defendants plied the girls, some as young as 13, with fast food, drink and drugs so they could 'pass them around' and use them for sex.
The victims were picked up from 'honeypot locations' where teenagers congregate, such as outside takeaway restaurants, and were then taken to 'chill houses' around the north of England for sex.
One 13-year-old victim became pregnant and had the child aborted.
Another gave evidence of being raped by two men while she was 'so drunk she was vomiting over the side of the bed'.
The court heard that some of the girls were raped and physically assaulted and some were forced to have sex with 'several men in a day, several times a week'.
Police said one victim was forced to have sex with 20 men in one night when she was drunk.
Detectives said she could 'barely recount the events' but her friend was downstairs and remembers 'innumerable men' going upstairs.
ISLAMIC LEADER: 'PAKISTANI COMMUNITY ELDERS IGNORED GROOMING'
Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the group, said police should not let the 'issue of race' stop them from addressing the issue.
The Ramadhan Foundation is a Manchester-based moderate Muslim youth group that works for 'peaceful co-existence and dialogue for all communities'.
Mr Shafiq said: 'There is a significant problem for the British Pakistani community, there is an over-representation amongst recent convictions in the crime of on-street grooming, there should be no silence in addressing the issue of race as this is central to the actions of these criminals.
'They think that white teenage girls are worthless and can be abused without a second thought; it is this sort of behaviour that is bringing shame on our community.
'I urge the police and the councils not to be frightened to address this issue, there is a strong lesson that you cannot ignore race or be over sensitive.'
He added: 'I have been overwhelmed by the support the Ramadhan Foundation has been given by young people for our campaign on child grooming but concerned that community elders are once again burying their heads in the sand, this concerns us all and we must speak out.
'The community elders need to learn from the reaction of young people and reject any attempt to silence the reaction from our community.'
He said the police would need to 'reflect on their failures' in this case.
'Finally the far-Right and fascist movements are not welcome to Rochdale, we reject their division and hatred and it has no place in a tolerant and diverse society.
'We will learn lessons from this case but not allow outsiders to divide us,' Mr Shafiq added.
But Asian Labour MP Keith Vaz warned that blaming a particular race or religion for grooming young girls for sex risks opening up a Pandora's box over race relations.
Mr Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said the root causes of the criminality against young girls needs to be addressed and the focus taken off the ethnic origin, religion or geographical location of those involved.
Mr Shafiq also today paid tribute to the bravery of the victims. 'Without their contribution justice would not have been possible,' he said.
'Today's guilty verdicts are to be welcomed and I hope the message goes out that if you engage in these crimes, you will be caught and brought to justice.
'These criminals have brought shame on themselves, their families and our community.'
The gang used a 15-year-old white girl they nicknamed 'The Honey Monster' as their recruiter.
She became the girlfriend of one of the gang and often plied the victims with alcohol, food and money. The court heard that she sometimes had sex with one man while another raped a girl in the same room
The 59-year-old man was found guilty of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children under the age of 16, two counts of rape, aiding and abetting a rape, one count of sexual assault and an allegation of trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation.
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 tomorrow.
The offences happened in and around Rochdale in 2008 and 2009. Police interviewed 47 young girls from the area who they believed could have been victims of this gang.
The father of one victim told the court he joined the BNP after he heard what had happened to his daughter.
At the start of the trial Rachel Smith, for the prosecution, told the jury: 'No child should be exploited as these girls say they were.'
Miss Smith said the girls - aged between 13 and 15 - were given alcohol, food and money in return for sex but that there were times when violence was used.
'There were also occasions on which one or more of the girls were so incapacitated by alcohol and/or drugs that they were incapable of having any control over whether or with whom they had sexual intercourse,' she said.
Only one of the girls was in care at the time of the abuse but all were said to have been known to social services at some point in their childhood.
Police said the victims were from 'chaotic', 'council estate' backgrounds.
The court was told that some of the defendants paid the girls and took payments from other men to whom they supplied the girls for sex.
The court heard that the men knew each other and that the abuse began at the Tasty Bites and the Balti House takeaways, both in the Heywood area of Rochdale. Those takeaways are now under new management, police said.
Four of the defendants worked as cab drivers at local taxi firms, one was a student and four were jobless. They were known to the girls by nicknames such as 'Master' and 'Tiger'.
The girls would often spend their days 'unsupervised by responsible adults'. They were not in school regularly and 'drank and smoked and hung around with little to do'.
Miss Smith said they were the 'sort of children who were easy to identify, target and exploit for the sexual gratification of these men'.
One girl, who was 13 when the alleged abuse began, told police that the men she met were 'friends' who looked after her and 'her number would be passed around amongst the Pakistani men in her area'.
She told police: 'When you've got Asian friends, your number gets passed and they pass it to their friends. And they pass it to their friends, end up with a massive circle... everyone's got it.'
Miss Smith said: 'The prosecution say that what this girl was describing was the group activity of a number of adult men, including these defendants, who had spotted the opportunity to sexually exploit children who were vulnerable to that sort of exploitation and were taking it.'
It can be revealed today that Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service apologised after they failed to bring the case of the first victim to trial following her cry for help in August 2008.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is spearheading an investigation into that botched inquiry.
It can also now be reported that the trial was delayed by two weeks when two Asian barristers quit the case due to intimidation by far right groups outside Liverpool Crown Court.
The trial almost collapsed following a tweet from BNP leader Nick Griffin.
Commenting on the case, Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood denied that it was about race. He 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.
'However, in large parts of the country we are seeing on-street grooming, child sexual exploitation happening in each of our towns and it isn't about a race issue.'
He added: 'The street grooming issue is about vulnerability and who has access to that vulnerability.'
Adil Khan, 42, of Rochdale, was found guilty of conspiracy and trafficking for sexual exploitation. Abdul Rauf, 43, of Rochdale, was found guilty of conspiracy and trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Mohammed Sajid, 35, of Rochdale, was found guilty of conspiracy, trafficking, one count of rape and one count of sexual activity with a child. Abdul Qayyum, 44, of Rochdale, was found guilty of conspiracy.
Mohammed Amin, 45, of Rochdale, was found guilty of conspiracy and sexual assault. Hamid Safi, 22, was found guilty of conspiracy and trafficking but not guilty of two counts of rape.
Liaquat Shah, 41, of Rochdale, was cleared sexual assault by the jury and was cleared of conspiracy after the jury was unable to agree a verdict and the prosecution offered no further evidence. Qamar Shahzad, 30, of Rochdale, was found not guilty of conspiracy.
A spokesman for the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) 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.'
VICTIM, 15, REVEALS HOW SHE WAS 'LET DOWN' BY POLICE
A victim of the ring said she was 'let down' by police and the Crown Prosecution Service because the issue of Asian gangs grooming young white girls was 'unheard of' at the time.""""""
The girl, who was 15 when she was targeted by the gang, reported the abuse to police in August 2008 but the CPS decided not to prosecute because they did not believe a jury would find her 'credible'.
After reporting the abuse she suffered for four more months at the hands of the gang and continued to be forced into having sex by her 'friend' - a teenage girl who was acting as a pimp for the men.
She said the problem got 'worse' after telling the police.
I felt let down. But I know that they (police) believed me... but... because they said to me at the end that something should have been done but the CPS just would not - what's the word? - prosecute is it?
'It's like, then, in 2008 it weren't really heard of... Asian men with white girls.
'It was just unheard of. I've never heard of it. Now it's going on everywhere. You think of Muslim men as religious and family-minded and just nice people. You don't think... I don't know... you just don't think they'd do things like that.'
The girl, now 20, only escaped the gang in December 2008 when she fell pregnant and moved away. She was then made to wait until August 2009 for the CPS to tell her they were not taking the case to trial.
Today, she called the men who abused her 'evil' and said she hopes they pay for their crimes. 'They ripped away all my dignity and all my last bit of self-esteem and by the end of it I had no emotion whatsoever because I was used to being used and abused daily,' she said.
'It was just blocked out, it was just like it wasn't me any more. They just took everything away and I just think hopefully they'll pay for what they've done.'
'In one case it is known that the first contact had been by a white British male who groomed the girls as girlfriends and then passed them on to an Asian gang,' the spokesman said. 'We therefore feel it is important that we do not focus solely on one ethnic minority in case the groomer is part of a multi-racial group.'
CEOP said there has been evidence that recent cases of group-related child sexual exploitation have been perpetrated by of Asian or black offenders. The spokesman added: 'There may be many reasons for this, including the locations of the crime, the type and timing of the crime.'
No figures have yet been published to highlight whether this is a wider issue.
CEOP's spokesman said: 'It may seem to the public that there are a lot of stories in the media at present focusing on cases involving predominantly Asian groups exploiting white young women.'
She said it was 'important to recognise that these are not the only child exploitation cases in the UK at present', adding: 'If you focus too much on one particular type of offending you may miss sexual exploitation elsewhere.'
How the BNP nearly caused the trial to be abandoned
A tweet from BNP leader Nick Griffin almost caused the trial of the Rochdale grooming gang to collapse when it led to allegations of the jury having a 'far-Right bias'.
Issues of race and religion have dogged the police investigation and the trial throughout, with far-Right rallies held outside Liverpool Crown Court as it progressed.
Police were forced to significantly step up security at Liverpool Crown Court during the trial to protect defendants and lawyers after violence delayed the trial by two weeks.
But the whole hearing was put in jeopardy when last Thursday afternoon - two-and-a-half days after the jury retired to consider its verdicts - Griffin posted a comment on his @nickgriffinmep account which read: 'News flash. Seven of the Muslim paedophile rapists found guilty in Liverpool.'
Griffin later backtracked on Twitter when he was told that the jury had not yet officially returned any verdicts.
But the tweet led to eight defence counsel calling on Judge Gerald Clifton to discharge the jury before it delivered verdicts after investigations revealed Griffin’s comment to be a '100 per cent accurate' reflection of its deliberations so far.
The defence counsel who supported the discharge of the jury said there must have been 'two-way communication' between someone in the jury room and a far-right organisation.
Simon Nichol, defending the 59-year-old who cannot be named, said: 'From the outset of this trial there have been attempts by right-wing organisations to influence the outcome.'
He said 'right-wing commentators' had published on the internet reports that the jury had reached guilty verdicts in respect of seven of the 11 defendants. 'Your honour’s inquiries of the jury confirmed the accuracy of those reports on the internet,' he said.
He said that the proposal that the information could have been 'obtained by guesswork is so implausible' that it 'can be discounted as fanciful'.
Mr Nichol said: 'The most reasonable inference from the facts as we know them is that the confidentiality of the jury’s deliberations has been breached and that someone outside of the jury who has an improper interest in the outcome of this trial has been receiving communications from within the jury room.
'It seems at the very least likely that if such communication has taken place then it will have been two-way traffic.'
Mr Nichol added: 'If there has been such improper communication then the impartiality and independence of the jury is compromised.'
But inquiries carried out by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service showed that the message, which the court heard was first published on the Infidels of Britain website, was published at a time when the jury was in its jury room where all electronic equipment is banned.
Judge Clifton said that 'having heard that the jury deny any improper behaviour' he was 'satisfied that no juror is at fault in communicating the jury’s position, either deliberately or accidentally to anyone else'.
'That means that the question of bias doesn’t arise at all,' he said. 'I have found no evidence to suggest a juror is at fault. The jury have been strictly confined in their jury room during most of the period that some of these tweets manifested themselves.'
Judge Clifton said the jury had been regularly passing notes and asking questions in relation to specific evidence and had been taking a 'perfectly reasonable, logical and unbiased approach to the evidence'.
He added that the suggestion by counsel that he should be forced to dismiss the jury was 'both unreasonable and illogical'. He said 'there are other scenarios that can explain the tweets' and the jury was allowed to continue with its work.
Then, on hearing that the jury was about to return some unanimous verdicts, the 59-year-old stood up and shouted at the judge: 'I don’t want this biased jury. You are a biased judge. You are a racist bastard. You bastard!'
He was restrained by security staff and forcibly removed from the dock. Adil Khan also stood up and said: 'I don’t want to attend for BNP jury,' and he also left the dock.
On Friday afternoon the 59-year-old was allowed back into court only to be restrained again after a complaint was made about him by a jury member. He shouted: 'They are all racist b******s!'
Judge Clifton ordered him to be taken down and he shouted again: 'You racist judge. You racist jury. You lying b******s!'
One female juror was visibly upset by the outburst and Judge Clifton barred the defendant from coming back into court for the rest of the trial. He said: 'I’m not having members of this jury intimidated or threatened.'
Following the conviction of the nine men it can also now be reported that the trial was delayed by two weeks when two Asian barristers quit the case after far right protesters attacked them outside court.
When the trial began on February 6, hundreds of supporters of the BNP and nationalist street group the English Defence League staged a protest outside the court.
Two defending barristers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were targeted on different days. One was charged by a group of protesters when he went for lunch. The other was allegedly punched by a protester when he left the court with his client.
Both men subsequently quit the case because they believed photographs of them had been placed on what they said were racist websites.
The trial had to be delayed delayed by two weeks while new barristers were found to replace them and the first jury of eight women and four men had to be discharged.
Following the trouble in the first days of the trial the security and policing presence was stepped up after barristers had complained it had been 'somewhat lacking'.
A new jury was sworn in on Tuesday, February 21.
But the 59-year-old defendant protested from the dock. He said it was a 'very poor jury' adding: 'There are not any black faces on there. Only white people.'
He said: 'No black people. No Chinese people, no Asians. Only white people trying this. Surely there must be more blacks?' However, there was only one non-white person on the panel of 30 people from which the jury was selected and the trial continued.
Three days into the trial, a mob of around 100 people began attacking takeaways in Heywood. Police warned they would take 'robust' action over anyone seeking to 'take advantage' of racial tensions. Officers were pelted with bricks and other missiles and two arrests were made after windows were damaged at a takeaway.
One car belonging to a member of the public and three police vehicles were also damaged. An officer suffered bruising to his legs and arms in the clashes.
On Saturday February 25, the English Defence League staged a static protest in Hyde, Greater Manchester, after a white youngster was beaten up, allegedly by a group of Asian men. The crowd was stirred up with speeches about what was happening in the Liverpool trial.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood said today: 'Over the last few weeks we have seen some trouble attracted to some of these locations. We will always support peaceful protest. We are in a democracy that encourages people to give a view. That will always happen.
'However, we will not tolerate criminal behaviour and we are working with local communities and with the organisers of some of these groups to make sure that we can get that balance right.'