A group of men that abused girls and young women in Newcastle did not target victims because of their race, a judge has said.
Judge Penny Moreland was sentencing some of the convicted perpetrators at Newcastle Crown Court. She said the men picked their victims “not because of their race, but because they were young, impressionable, naive and vulnerable”.
Some 17 men and one woman were convicted of numerous sexual offences against children and young women in the north east of England last month. The victims were aged between 13 and 25.
Some victims were threatened with violence if they refused to have sex with the men. Others were abused while incapacitated by drugs or drink.
The trial exposed how police missed a number of opportunities to investigate and end the abuse.
Lord McDonald, former director of public prosecutions, had previously claimed that abuse of white women by predominantly Asian men was a “profoundly racist crime”.
But prosecutor John Elvidge QC said that, although victims who gave evidence in court were “white British”, the ethnicity of other potential targets was unknown.
He said one vulnerable girl who did not engage with police was black, and an Asian girl was seen at a “party”. The court heard that the men abused girls at “parties” after plying them with drugs and alcohol.
Elvidge said, “There is no evidence that defendants expressed any racial malice to the complainants.”
The Nazi English Defence League (EDL) has tried to exploit the abuse scandal to whip up racism. But around 100 anti-racists blocked an EDL protest in Newcastle city centre last month. The EDL plans a further protest in Newcastle this Saturday.
Jahangir Zaman and Mohammed Azram were the first of the group to be sentenced on Tuesday of this week. Zaman was jailed for 29 years after being convicted of rape, conspiracy to incite prostitution and drugs offences.
Azram was jailed for 12 years and six months for sexual assault, conspiracy to incite prostitution and drugs offences. Sentencing of other convicted abusers was set to continue today, Wednesday.