Martin Evans, Telegraph, October 19, 2018
A series of trials that were almost derailed by the English Defence League founder, Tommy Robinson, have ended with 20 members of an Asian grooming gang being convicted of a catalogue of rape and abuse against girls as young as 11.
The gang members, who were mainly of Pakistani heritage and came from the Huddersfield area, were convicted after a court heard how they passed victims around like “commodities” and used them for their own “sexual gratification”.
Ringleader Amere Singh Dhaliwal, 35, was jailed for life earlier this year and told he must serve a minimum of 18 years in prison by a judge who described his treatment of the girls as “inhuman”.
The abuse took place between 2004 and 2011 and involved victims aged between 11 and 17.
Details of the case and the three trials can only now be disclosed after a judge agreed to lift reporting restrictions following a challenge from the media.
But the second trial almost collapsed in May when far right campaigner, Robinson, was arrested for allegedly breaching reporting restrictions by filming outside the court.
He was jailed for contempt of court but his conviction was later quashed and the case is due to be heard again at the Old Bailey next week.
Throughout the three trials, jurors were told how the men — who used nicknames including Beastie and Dracula — had plied their victims with drink and drugs before sexually abusing them.
The girls, who were all considered vulnerable, described how they initially thought they were being shown genuine affection before the abuse began.
In at least one case the victim later attempted suicide, another had an abortion and two of the victims had learning disabilities.
The abuse, which took place in car parks, hotels, takeaways and snooker halls across West Yorkshire, was largely aimed at white girls.
The first of the trials began in January this year and saw eight men, including Dhaliwal, convicted of a range of offences including rape and other sex offences.
Dhaliwal, who has children of his own, was convicted of 54 separate counts, including 22 rapes, involving 11 girls.
Judge Geoffrey Marson QC told the gang: “The extent and gravity of your offending far exceeds anything which I have previously encountered. It was a very significant campaign of rape and other sexual abuse.
“Children’s lives have been ruined and families profoundly affected by seeing their children, over months and years, out of control, having been groomed by you and other members of your gang.”
The second trial, which began in April this year, also saw eight defendants convicted and the third trial, featuring four defendants ended on October 8.
Speaking at the conclusion of the first trial, Judge Marson said: “The way you treated these girls defies understanding; this abuse was vile and wicked.
“As cases of sexual abuse with which the courts have to deal, this case comes at the top of the scale. None of you has expressed any remorse for what you did.”
He added: “The sentences I pass on you are severe and are intended to be so. They are intended to deter others from behaving in this way.”
The second trial, which ended in June, saw eight men given jail sentences of between five and 18 years.
Four more men were found guilty of a range of offences earlier this month following the third trial and will be sentenced on November 1.
The pattern of large-scale exploitation of mainly white girls by groups of men of mainly Pakistani heritage uncovered by West Yorkshire Police in Huddersfield mirrors what has happened in a number of other towns including Rotherham, Rochdale and Telford.