Rotherham brothers await sentence for rape, violence and prostitution

Three brothers who subjected teenage girls to years of rape, violence and prostitution in Rotherham will be sentenced today along with three of their associates.

Arshid, Basharat and Bannaras Hussain - known as Mad Ash, Bash and Bono - will be sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court after a series of women - most now in their 30s - told a jury how they were sexually, physically and emotionally abused in the South Yorkshire town when they were in their early teens.

The jury heard how the Hussain brothers "ruled Rotherham" with their drugs and guns operation and abused girls with impunity.

Arshid, 40, and Basharat, 39, were found guilty of a range of offences earlier this week along with their uncle, Qurban Ali, 53, and two women - Karen MacGregor, 58, and Shelley Davis, 40.

Bannaras pleaded guilty to serious offences at the beginning of his trial.

On Wednesday, victims of the gang welcomed the convictions after so many years in which they were disbelieved and ignored by the authorities.

Some of the 12 women who told their stories to the jury over the last two months sat in the public gallery holding hands as Arshid and Basharat were found guilty of offences including rapes and many indecent assaults which, if they happened now, would be classified as rape.

After the verdicts, the police watchdog said it was now looking into more than 194 allegations about police conduct in relation to exploitation in Rotherham and 54 officers had so far been named, 26 of whom have been notified they are being formally investigated.

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said British Pakistanis needed to acknowledge the problem of grooming gangs operating in their communities.

He said: "Until British Pakistanis accept that this is a problem for our community we will not be able to eradicate this evil. Burying our head in the sand as the usual response is not good enough."

One victim of the Rotherham gang, referred to as "Jessica", said: "It has been 16 years we have waited for this.

"It has not sunk in yet. This can give me some closure, for me my life starts now."

The jury heard how MacGregor lured vulnerable girls to stay at her "Hansel and Gretel" house in Rotherham, promising them refuge but pimping them out to a succession of men for sex to "earn their keep".

Arshid followed the court case from his bed at home via video link. The jury heard how he claims to be a paraplegic following a shooting in 2005.

During the verdicts he could be seen on screens in court apparently asleep. But Judge Sarah Wright said he was taken to hospital with police officers after his wife called an ambulance.

Prosecutors said they believed this was a deliberate attempt to frustrate the judicial process.

The convictions of the Hussain brothers and their associates is the first successful prosecution of a grooming gang in Rotherham since the child sexual exploitation scandal engulfed the town following the publication of the Jay Report.

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