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19 Oct, 2018 14:27

Grooming gang, whose court cases were protested by Tommy Robinson, jailed for 221 years

Grooming gang, whose court cases were protested by Tommy Robinson, jailed for 221 years

A grooming gang, whose court hearings were protested by EDL-founder Tommy Robinson, have been given jail terms totaling 221 years after launching a "campaign of rape and other sexual abuse" against teenage girls in Huddersfield.

The 20 men whose ages range from 27 to 54 were convicted as part of Operation Tendersea during three trials at Leeds Crown Court.

Details of the case can now be disclosed after a judge agreed to lift reporting restrictions on Friday.

READ MORE: Rowdy supporters vow to rally again after Tommy Robinson case is adjourned

It was the second of these trials that saw EDL-founder and self-styled journalist Robinson film outside the court, while the jury was deliberating.

The abuse of 15 schoolgirls by the gang was described by the judge as "top of the scale." The youngest of the victims, who were characterized as vulnerable and isolated, was thought to have been 11 or 12-years old. Some of the underage girls were in care and suffered from mild learning disabilities.

The gang carried out the sexual abuse in the Huddersfield area between 2004 and 2011. The men assigned themselves a series of nicknames which they used while communicating with each other. They included "Dracula," "Beastie" and "Nurse."

Judge Geoffrey Marson QC, sentencing 16 of the men earlier this year, 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."

The gang ringleader Amere Singh Dhaliwal, 35, was jailed for life with a minimum of 18 years at Leeds Crown Court.

Dhaliwal, a married father-of-two, was told by the judge: "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."

The court heard how the girls were lured in with gifts including food, cigarettes or lifts; and then plied with drink and drugs.

The victims were sexually abused in houses, cars, car parks, a takeaway, a snooker center, and in a park. The abusers sometimes used plastic bags as condoms.

READ MORE: Grooming gangs: ‘Cultural drivers’ to be probed in new inquiry, says Sajid Javid

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was given a 13-month sentence in May for breaching contempt of court laws outside of Leeds Crown Court. He was arrested after confronting defendants while recording a live video on Facebook as they entered the Leeds courthouse to face trial over sexual abuse allegations.

Robinson's conviction was later quashed. The case is due to be heard again at the Old Bailey next week.