FIVE girls groomed on the streets of a North-East town are still being “tortured” by supporters of the men who abused them, their families said tonight.
The mother of one of the teenage victims spoke out after two men and a 17-year-old youth were jailed for a total of 19 years for sexually exploiting the girls in Middlesbrough.
Passing sentence Judge John Walford told Shakil Munir, 32, 19-year-old Sakib Ahmed and Ateeq Latif, 17, that they had regarded the girls - all aged between 13 and 15 - as objects for their own sexual pleasure.
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He added: “In reality they were children who lacked the maturity of experience to cope with your manipulative ways."
The court heard that the girls had been taunted and insulted by friends and family of the defendants since coming forward, including being bombarded by obscene messages, called sluts and accused of being racist.
Judge Walford described the girls' treatment as "appalling", adding that it revealed a “profoundly worrying attitude about the offending”.
Speaking outside court after the sentencing, the mother of one of the victims said: “The girls are still being tortured by these people - they are painting them as sluts when they are the victims.”
Police maintained a high presence inside and outside Teesside Crown Court yesterday as about 20 English Defence League activists exchanged insults with supporters of the defendants.
THE behavior of men who used threats and manipulation to groom and abuse vulnerable underage girls was today condemned.
Judge Walford said there was no place in a civilised society for the attitude shown by the three defendants towards the five girls, who were all aged between 13 and 15.
Although he said the case was different to other grooming cases around the country where young girls had been trafficked and passed around, he said: “It is unacceptable for feckless young men to roam the streets at night seeking young, impressionable girls, with only one objective in mind.
“That is behaviour that needs to be condemned.”
Taxidriver Shakil Munir, 32, of Tollesby Road, Middlesbrough, was sentenced to eight years in prison after being found guilty of four counts of sexual activity with a child and one of abduction.
Sakeb Ahmed, 19, a pizza shop worker from Cambridge Road, Middlesbrough, was also sentenced to eight years after admitting five charges of sexual activity with a child.
Student Ateeq Latif, 17, of Abingdon Road, Middlesbrough, was sent to a young offenders’ institution for three years after being convicted of two counts of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence.
Christopher Knox, prosecuting, told Teesside Crown Court that the girls had been exploited by a loosely connected group of young men and one older man.
He added: "They were exploitative relationships. They were groomed for what later occurred - these were not a case of girlfriend, boyfriend relationships."
Mr Knox said the grooming progressed from talking face to face to exchanging phone messages.
Mr Knox said that since coming forward, the victims had been subjected to "horrifying" abuse by friends and family of the defendants.
He added: "They have been subjected to name calling; suggestions such as ‘white trash'.
“They have been goaded in classrooms, saying 'don't touch her she will have you done for rape'.
“They have also been bombarded by obscene messages on Facebook, calling them sluts and accusing them of being racist."
The court heard how a car belonging to one of the girl's families had been vandalised, while family members had received threats on-line.
Outside court the mother of one of the girls revealed how her family had been forced to move home because of the intimidation.
Judge Walford said the defendants could not be held responsible for the “shameful behavior” of others.
However, he added: “I openly express the hope that after today the sort of unpleasantness to which those girls have been subjected will cease and they can be allowed to put these events behind them.”
Detective Inspector Dino Carlucci, who led the investigation, paid tribute to the victims who had given evidence, adding: “I now hope the girls can get on and enjoy their lives, which is what teenage girls should be doing.”
Members of the English Defence League chanted and exchanged insults with Asian supporters of the defendants outside court.
They were watched over by scores of police.