Tom Parfitt, Express, August 9, 2017
Vulnerable girls were raped and sexually abused at parties in Newcastle after being plied with drugs, it can now be reported.
A total of 17 men and one woman have been convicted of, or have admitted, charges including rape, supplying drugs and inciting prostitution.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the older men preyed on immature teenagers who were plied with cocaine, cannabis, alcohol or mephedrone.
The girls and women were then raped or persuaded into having sexual activity.
Over the course of four trials at Newcastle Crown Court, 20 young women gave evidence covering a period from 2011 to 2014.
Those prosecuted were from the Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish communities and mainly British-born.
Most lived in the West End of Newcastle.
Police pieced together links between the offenders gathered at the same places or had mutual acquaintances.
Defendants were charged with conspiracy to incite prostitution for gain – reflecting how women were exploited with drink or drugs.
Roles within the conspiracy included providing the premises, supplying drugs, transporting victims, having sex with them or encouraging it to happen.
There was no suggestion the victims were working as prostitutes or were paid.
Not all the defendants were part of the conspiracy.
John Elvidge QC, who prosecuted the cases, said girls were exploited ruthlessly.
Summing up the final trial, he said: “This was a section of young women who were tricked into believing they were in the company of friends.
“They were groomed and lulled into trusting those who would ultimately abuse them.”
Under cross-examination, one victim said she did not go to the police because she was addicted to the drugs the abusers were handing out.
One girl described how a victim was demeaned in a flat in Newcastle’s West End.
She told the jury: “She seemed scared. She came into the room where I was and the men were treating her like a slave.
“They were dropping things on the floor on purpose to make her pick them up.”