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Huddersfield grooming gang jailed for abusing vulnerable girls
Twenty members of a “vile and wicked” grooming gang have been convicted of trafficking, drugging and raping vulnerable girls in a harrowing campaign of abuse across West Yorkshire. It can now be reported that the ringleader of the group, 35-year-old Amere Singh Dhaliwal, was jailed for life to serve a minimum of 18 years after being found guilty of 54 offences, including countless rapes of children.
Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said the crimes against 15 girls far exceeded anything he had previously seen. The gang’s “persistent and prolonged” offending, he said, was “at the top of the scale” of severity.
Details of the case, believed to be Britain’s single biggest grooming prosecution, can be disclosed after a judge agreed to lift reporting restrictions on Friday, following a legal challenge by media groups including the Guardian. One of the trials had previously almost collapsed when the anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson filmed defendants in a live Facebook video outside Leeds crown court.
Jurors in the three trials heard how the men, mostly from Huddersfield, plied girls as young as 11 with alcohol and drugs before sexually abusing them in car parks, hotels, takeaways, snooker halls, on moors and by reservoirs across the region.
Fifteen severely vulnerable girls fell victim to the gang between 2004 and 2011. One girl, aged 11 or 12 at the time, was abducted from a care home and supplied ecstasy before being made to perform sex acts, Leeds crown court heard. Many of the victims described how they were plied with drink and drugs at house parties then raped “one by one” by the men, who used plastic bags as condoms.
Dhaliwal was at the heart of the group, who referred to each other using nicknames including “Dracula,” “Beastie” and “Chiller” in monikers that were used in the three trials.
The girls were deliberately targeted for their vulnerabilities. All had troubled home lives, including one whose mother was unable to care for her due to drink and drug addictions.
Two of the girls had mild learning disabilities. At least one girl attempted suicide and another had an abortion, jurors heard. One of the girls was thrown out of a moving car outside her home. She had bruises all over her face and was under the influence of alcohol and drugs. They were made to feel special by flattery, going to parties, having rides in cars and given presents, the judge said. Many thought the men were showing them genuine affection.