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Four men jailed over sexual exploitation of young girls in Newcastle

From: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/nov/03/newcastle-men-jailed-sex-grooming-network-operation-sanctuary

Four men have been jailed for up to 12 and a half years each for their involvement in a sex grooming network in Newcastle.
The men trafficked their victims – said to be held “in thrall” by a ready supply of drugs and alcohol – around houses in Tyneside, where they were sexually assaulted.
Newcastle crown court heard that the gang contacted their female victims, who were aged 13-16, on Facebook to discuss sex parties and on one occasion demanded sex in return for paying for a tattoo.
The offences occurred between 2007 and 2014, and the victims were described by the prosecution as “immature and vulnerable”. The men gave the girls drugs including ecstasy, cocaine, speed and cannabis, in return for “sexual favours and services”.
The prosecutor, Anne Richardson, told the court the girls were not acting through their own free will, but were “beholden and in thrall to these men”.
The men were all asylum seekers from either Iran or Iraq, and three had been granted leave to remain in the UK. As they are not British citizens, they are likely to be deported once they have served their prison sentences.
Lawyers for the men said they feared going back to their home countries. Jamie Adams, representing Saman Obaid, who arrived in the UK from Iraq in 2007, said: “He has had problems with alcohol, which perhaps is not surprising because, as always, he is worried about what is happening to his family back home. He himself is very concerned about his immigration status, particularly given what is happening in his domain.”
Obaid, 29, of Byker, Newcastle, was convicted of four offences of supplying controlled drugs, and was sentenced to four years and nine months in jail.
Palla Pour, 25, of Longbenton, Newcastle, was convicted of sexual activity with a child, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, supplying a controlled drug to a child and permitting his premises to be used for the supply of drugs. He was sentenced to 12 and a half years.
Ribas Asad, 29, of Newcastle, was convicted of sexual assault, paying for the sexual services of a child, supplying a controlled drug, causing a child to engage in sexual activity and sexual activity with a child. He was given a jail term of nine and a half years.
Soran Azizi, 28, of Byker, was convicted of two offences of trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation and was jailed for six years.
During the lengthy trial, Richardson described how Pour and another man said they would pay half the price of a tattoo if a girl had anal sex with them.
In an impact statement read to the court, the girl, who later developed an addiction to crack cocaine, said: “The tattoo was done when I was 15 but it will be a reminder for ever of what they did to me.”
Sentencing the men on Friday, Judge Bob Spragg said: “These were vulnerable young women – they were easy targets for exploitation and the lure of drugs and alcohol.
“Once ensnared, some were expected to provide sexual favours and services, not because they wanted to but because they were beholden and in thrall to you. The effects on their lives have been devastating. It is clear to me the effects on these young women have been hugely damaging.”
The case was part of Operation Sanctuary, Northumbria police’s investigation into the sexual exploitation of children and adults with vulnerabilities. Earlier this year, the operation led to the conviction and jailing of 18 people for grooming offences. At the time, police said they had identified as many as 278 potential victims as part of Operation Sanctuary.

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