Girls raped after Facebook 'grooming', court hears

A gang of men from Peterborough sexually exploited vulnerable teenage girls after targeting them on Facebook, a court has been told.

Five men are on trial for trafficking and raping eight girls, aged between 13 and 16, between 2008 and 2013.

Prosecutor Patricia Lynch told Cambridge Crown Court the girls were singled out "because of their vulnerability".

She said they were given alcohol and used as "sex objects".

Opening the case against the defendants, Ms Lynch said the men liaised with the girls via Facebook, Blackberry Messenger and text messages.

After being "chatted up", the victims would be collected from near their homes in towns and villages around Peterborough, Rutland and Lincolnshire before being driven to secluded spots in Peterborough, Ms Lynch said.

She said many of the girls had "extremely troubled backgrounds".

'Sex objects'

"Their very young age, their vulnerability, the grooming process and the use of alcohol negates any consent that they may have given," she told the court.

"They were effectively used as sex objects by these defendants."

Yasir Ali, 28, of Grange Road, denies six counts of rape, two of making indecent photographs of children, one of sexual activity in the presence of a child, seven of trafficking and one of witness intimidation.

Daaim Ashraf, 19, of Almoners Lane, denies three counts of rape, one of sexual assault, one of sexual activity with a child, one of sexual activity in the presence of a child, seven of trafficking and one of witness intimidation.

Akash Yasin, 18, of Gladstone Street, denies one count of sexual assault and two of trafficking.

James Daly, 25, of Grange Road, denies one count of rape.

Mohammed Aslam, 24, of Grange Road, denies one count of rape and one of sexual activity in the presence of a child.

The trial, which is expected to last up to eight weeks, continues.

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