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Vulnerable girls as young as 11 were groomed, subjected to acts of "extreme depravity" and trafficked around the UK for sex by a gang of men based in Oxford, a court has heard. Over a period of eight years the nine men made the girls' lives a "living hell", subjecting them to extreme physical and sexual violence, selling some victims for prostitution in Oxford and trafficking others around the country, an Old Bailey jury was told.
It took more than half an hour to read out the 51 counts against the men, who sat impassively in the dock, accused of crimes including rape, forcing a child into prostitution and trafficking. The jury of seven men and five women heard that from to early six complainants were plied with drugs and drink, and raped, sometimes by several men and sometimes "for days on end".
The men targeted children in care or from chaotic backgrounds, the jury heard. Once groomed, the girls could then be used to recruit other children into the sex ring. Some of the girls, ranging in age from 11 to 15, were groomed to be child prostitutes, for which some men in the gang received payments. The court heard there were more potential abusers who were not in the dock. The nine face 19 counts of rape, seven of them with a child aged under Other counts include arranging or facilitating child prostitution, trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation and using an instrument to procure a miscarriage.
Noel Lucas QC, prosecuting said: "The depravity of what was done to the complainants was extreme. He told the jury that they would have to steel themselves to hear the evidence. Much of what the girls were forced to endure was perverted in the extreme. The children were taken to guest houses and empty houses, thought to be kept for the abuse, and prevented from escaping. They were subjected to "humiliating and degrading conduct", including biting, suffocation, burning and scratching.
Weapons, including knives, baseball bats, knives and meat cleavers were used during the torture, the court heard. The jury was told that sometimes men had urinated on the girls, who were raped vaginally, orally and anally. The children were groomed in a variety of ways, given gifts or "simply shown the care and attention they very much craved", said Lucas. He said the girls were also given "so many drugs they were barely aware of what was going on — indeed they say it was the only way they could cope with what was going on".