Men and woman 'targeted young girls for sex' in Huddersfield
A group of nine men and one woman cynically groomed vulnerable girls and treated them as "objects to be used and abused at will", a court has heard.
Leeds Crown Court heard four socially isolated girls aged 12 to 16 were treated by the gang as sexual commodities.
Prosecutor Richard Wright QC said there was a sense those in authority "did not do enough to engage with these girls".
The men and woman deny a range of sexual offences against the girls.
Mr Wright said: "The girls targeted by those men were children and the men knew that and they did not care about it for a moment.
"These men cared only for themselves and viewed these girls as objects to be used and abused at will.
"You will readily understand that these vulnerable youngsters, who were also socially isolated, very rapidly found themselves drawn into a world in which they had little or no control of their lives.
"They were unable to make truly free or informed choices about anything they did with these men.
"What they plainly had in common was their young age, their social isolation, and the fact that each of them was in their own way extremely vulnerable so that they were easy targets for abuse."
He added that the defendants, all from Huddersfield, had deliberately targeted the vulnerable children, bent them to their will, abused them and passed them around other men for sexual purposes, using threats and violence when necessary.
The court heard how, prior to and during the alleged offences, the complainants had been "deliberately avoiding home and people in positions of authority".
Mr Wright said: "There is here, regrettably, a sense that those in authority who handled the concerns of parents and friends expressed at the time of these offences did not do enough to engage with these girls and find out what was happening to them."
Mr Wright said that the girl's mother had desperately tried to stop her daughter from going out and had contacted police and social services, but was "failed by their inaction".
Defendants and charges:
- A 42-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, denies one count of rape and two of trafficking for sexual exploitation
- Iftikar Ali, 38, of Holly Road, Thornton Lodge: three counts of rape and one of attempted rape
- Basharat Hussain, 32, of William Street, Crosland Moor, two counts of rape
- Manzoor Akhtar, 30, of Blackmoorfoot Road: three counts of the same offence and one of trafficking for sexual exploitation
- Female defendant, Fehreen Rafiq, 39, of Blackmoorfoot Road: two counts of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence
- Mohammed Sajjad, 32, of Yews Mount, a single count of the same offence and five of rape, one charge allegedly involved a girl under the age of 13
- Umar Zaman, 31, and Banaris Hussain, 36, both of William Street, Crosland Moor: two and one counts of rape respectively
- Samuel Fikru, 31: two counts of rape, and Mohammed Arif, 32, of New Hey Road, Oakes, faces a single charge of the same offence
Jurors were told that, despite being aware of the trial's start date, Mr Zaman had failed to attend court.
Judge Geoffrey Marson told them: "You must not speculate as to the reason for his absence."