An Indian-origin ringleader is among 16 men jailed for a combined period of over 200 years for being part of a grooming gang which sexually abused vulnerable young girls in the West Yorkshire region of England.
Amere Singh Dhaliwal, 35, was jailed for life with a minimum of 18 years behind bars, with other members of the gang jailed for between five and 18 years in jail at Leeds Crown Court.
The court had been hearing the cases since the beginning of January and were told of the men's years of repeated serious sexual abuse of the girls, supplying them with drugs and alcohol and trafficking them across the West Yorkshire region for their sexual gratification.
The third trial in the case concluded on October 8, with reporting restrictions imposed on the entire case by the judge lifted only on Friday.
"The investigation into this case has been extremely complex and the investigative team have worked tirelessly for the past five years to ensure that no stone has been left unturned. We welcome the convictions and sentences which have been passed down throughout the year to these depraved individuals, who subjected vulnerable young children to unthinkable sexual and physical abuse," said Detective Chief Inspector Ian Mottershaw, from West Yorkshire Police, who led the investigation.
"I hope the outcomes of these trials will enable the victims to start the process of putting this trauma behind them and reassure any other potential victims that we will treat them with the utmost respect and sensitivity and take positive action against perpetrators," he said.
Jailing the men, who are all of South Asian origin including Pakistani-origin men, Judge Geoffrey Marson said: "The way you treated these girls defies understanding; this abuse was vile and wicked. As cases of sexual abuse with which the courts have to deal, this case comes top of the scale".
Ringleader Dhaliwal, a married father of two, had been charged with 21 counts of rape, assault by penetration, four counts of sexual assault, five counts of inciting sexual activity with a child, 13 counts of trafficking for sexual exploitation, three counts of making indecent images, one count of inciting child prostitution, two offences of administering a substance with intent to commit a sexual act and a racially aggravated assault.
As Dhaliwal was sentenced, the judge added, "The extent and gravity of your offending far exceeds anything which I have previously encountered. Children's lives have been ruined and families profoundly affected by seeing their children, over months and years, out of control, having been groomed by you and other members of your gang".
A further four men found guilty will be sentenced on November 1 at Leeds Crown Court and have been remanded in custody. All 20 men will also be handed down indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Orders, put in place to prevent them from any unsupervised contact with female children under 18.
The convictions follow an "extensive and extremely complex and sensitive investigation" conducted by detectives in Kirklees district of West Yorkshire, spanning nearly five years, in order to bring a case in front of a judge.
In 2013, the first report was made to the police by a victim and since that point, police identified 15 victims and pieced together the investigation.
The location of the crimes was around Huddersfield and all suspects originate from that town. The offences committed occurred between 2004 and 2011 against girls aged between 11 and 17.