18 people convicted over Newcastle child sex network

Thursday 10th August 2017 05:30 EDT

A court has convicted eighteen people of abusing girls who were plied with alcohol and drugs before being forced to engage in sexual intercourse. Seventeen men and one woman were convicted of rape, supplying drugs and conspiracy to incite prostitution. Those prosecuted largely belong to the Asian community, including from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, and Iraq. The rest will be sentenced next month. The court also heard that the police paid a convicted child rapist £10,000 as an informant.

Over the course of four trials held from 2011 to 2014, 20 young women testified. They were known to have first been flattered by the attention of the men who befriende them, they lured them to parties, known as “sessions” with promises of alcohol and drugs. Newcastle Crown Court heard that bags of M-Kat were left on coffee tables for the girls to help themselves. A teenager said she was raped three times, at parties which were held at premises around the West End, including the top floor of tower block Todd's Nook. Some described their condition “too intoxicated” to defend themselves, and others said they had become addicted and committed sexual acts in return for drugs.

A victim said she had attended about 60 parties and another told of going to an address where there were two older men and a woman who looked “frightened and scared, like a slave.” “They told us what she would do for them for money and drugs or she'd get battered.” Another victim said, “I knew that if we wanted drugs or alcohol we would have to do something. (He) had us too intoxicated to fight him off. One time, (he) locked the door. I was told I would only be allowed out if I had sex.” The prosecution said the girls became the “vulnerable victims of an organised, cynical, systematic organisation in which they were passed between their abusers.”

Operation Sanctuary was set up by the Northumbria Police in 2013, to investigate claims of sexual abuse against girls and young women. The investigation continues and has resulted in 461 arrests to this date. About 278 victims have been identified, and 703 potential complainants talked to. Given the potentially massive size of the investigation, it was split into several spin-off operations. This led to four separate trials, with the first held in September 2015, and the final one concluded most recently.

A 19 year old victim who was regularly abused by older men, had grown extremely vulnerable and unable to look after herself. In 2014, she informed the police that she had been raped by Abdul Minoyee. A detective later took her on a tour of the West End to help identify the suspect's house and car, and other places where the “parties” were held. It was her information that raised the alarm of the abuse being held on larger scale. The doubt was strengthened when two other girls aged 14 and 15 described being driven into Newcastle and plied with alcohol and cocaine before being raped and beaten by several men.

Council leader Nick Forbes said, “These were vile crimes committed by evil men. The victims have been brave beyond belief and undoubtedly have made our city safer.” Chief Constable Steve Ashman said, “We have not and will not stop. There has been no political correctness here. These are criminals and there has been no hesitation in arresting them and targeting them using all the means at our disposal.”

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