- Judge says gang preyed on five girls, aged between 13 and 15, partly because they were from different 'community and religion'
- Nine men jailed for a total of 77 years as police prepare to arrest four more
- Judge Gerald Clifton dismisses defendants' claims that prosecution was 'triggered by race' after ringleader brands him a 'racist b******'
- But legal counsel for one of the convicted men says he will launch an appeal on the basis of a tweet by BNP leader Nick Griffin
- Opportunity to catch the paedophiles missed after complaint four years ago
- As many as 47 vulnerable girls were plied with alcohol, gifts and money
- They were then passed around for sex with 'several men a day'
- At least one victim forced to have sex with 20 men in one night, police say
- Convicted men will be scattered in prisons across the UK and segregated from other prisoners over fears of revenge attacks
- Former Labour MP Ann Cryer says gang were left to it because police feared being branded racist
- Muslim leader warns that some British Pakistani men 'think that white teenage girls are worthless and can be abused without a second thought'
Judge Gerald Clifton: Condemned the gang while dismissing allegations of racism against them
Nine Asian men were yesterday jailed for a total of 77 years for raping and abusing up to 47 girls - some as young as 13 - after plying them with alcohol and luring them to takeaways.
Now police have identified four more suspects alleged to have abused the young witness whose evidence helped secure convictions at the end of the 11-week trial.
But many more remain at large as officers try to establish the real identities of men referred to in court only by nicknames such as Goofy, Ray, Juicy, Arfan, Ali, Manni, Mamma, Pino and Arfan.
The suspected abusers have proved difficult to track down and it is feared some of them have already fled the country.
But police in Greater Manchester have managed to identify four men accused of sexually abusing the main witness at a 'sex party' in 2008.
Detectives believe at least one may be in Pakistan. They expect to make arrests in the next few days but are not planning to extend the investigation abroad.
The trial heard that the men - who are all from Pakistan, apart from one who is from Afghanistan - groomed and 'shared' the young white girls because they were vulnerable.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood, of Greater Manchester Police said: 'It is not a racial issue. This is about adults preying on vulnerable young children. It just happens that in this particular area and time the demographics were that these were Asian men.'
However, the gang's ringleader yesterday branded the judge a 'racist b******' after he and eight other men were jailed.
The extraordinary outburst came after Judge Gerald Clinton accused the gang of targeting white girls because they were not part of their ‘community or religion’.
Yesterday senior politicians clashed over the case – with one former Labour MP claiming police and social workers ignored complaints because they were ‘petrified of being called racist’.
With experts on paedophilia insisting street grooming by Muslim men was a real problem, the judge made it clear he believed religion was a factor.
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Lawyer: Alias Yousaf, solicitor for Adil Khan, confirms he will lodge an appeal against the conviction
He added: ‘I believe one of the factors which led to that is that they were not of your community or religion.’
But he branded outbursts by some of the men claiming the prosecution was racially-motivated ‘nonsense’, telling them they found themselves in the dock because of their ‘lust and greed’.
Detective Inspector Michael Sanderson, of Greater Manchester Police, said none of the convicted men had ever shown ‘the slightest bit of remorse’.
They will be segregated from other prisoners over fears of revenge attacks.
They are being sent to prisons all over the country where they were will be placed on wings which house only paedophiles and other sex offenders. One senior prison service source said: 'They will be given vulnerable prisoner status for their own safety.'
The longest sentence of 19 years was imposed on the 59-year-old ringleader, who cannot be named for legal reasons. After a series of outbursts – including reducing a female juror to tears and insulting prosecutor Rachel Smith – he was banished from the dock.
Yesterday he refused to attend Liverpool Crown Court to hear the judge jail him for rape, aiding and abetting rape, trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child.
Judge Clifton said it was no wonder he had struck fear into his young victims, branding him an ‘an unpleasant, hypocritical bully’.
He said the girls had been raped ‘callously, viciously and violently’ after being attracted by ‘flattery, free food and alcohol’.
He branded allegations that the prosecution was racially-motivated ‘nonsense’ and added: ‘This was triggered by your lust and greed. These sentences would apply to all defendants whether they be white or Asian.’