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A massive child sex abuse network was cracked by UK police who paid a child rapist to inform

A total of 278 victims have been identified.

convictions Source: Northumbria Police

A TOTAL OF 17 men and one woman have been convicted as part of a major investigation into the sexual exploitation of women and teenage girls in the northeast of England.

Operation Sanctuary by police in the Newcastle area has so far identified 278 victims who were raped, exploited or sexually abused.

Many of these victims were abused at “sessions” in which they were intoxicated with drugs and alcohol.

The victims ranged in age from 15 to their early 20s with the men in question aged in their 30s and 40s.

The women and girls were often groomed and befriended by the men who then invited them to these gatherings where they were plied with the intoxicants and abused.

Source: BBC News/YouTube

The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service said that the trials heard how “the men would often threaten their victims with physical violence if they did not partake in sexual activity with them”.

Others were “subjected to sexual activity when they were incapacitated and unable to resist”.

The major investigation was set up at the beginning of 2014 and has so far arrested 461 people, spoken to 703 potential complainants and identified 278 victims.

In total, 93 convictions have been secured in addition to today’s further convictions.

“These men systematically groomed and abused vulnerable teenage girls and young women over a number of years for their own sexual gratification. Some have already received significant prison sentences for their actions and others still face sentence,” Jim Hope of the Crown Prosecution Service said today.

Operation Shelter court case Northumbria Police Chief Constable Steve Ashman. Source: Owen Humphreys/PA Images

In the various trials it emerged that a convicted child rapist was used as a paid informant to secure evidence against those accused.

Chief Constable Steve Ashman of Northumbria Police defended this tactic at a press conference today:

XY was an authorised covert human intelligence source , an informant, who was able to report on criminality including child sex exploitation.  He was a convicted rapist and to some of us the thought of the police engaging with such a person and paying them for information may appear repugnant, however he proved he was in a position whereby he could, and did, alert police to situations which allowed them to prevent offending and provide safeguarding measures towards potential victims.

Those convicted today were mostly British-born and from a variety of backgrounds. Ashman added that communities in the area must ensure that shame must be attached to the actions of those convicted.

“These are criminals and there has been no hesitation in arresting them and targeting them using all the means at our disposal. It is for individual communities to ask themselves whether they are doing all they can to eradicate such attitudes and behaviour so that the stigma and shame attached to such people prevents it from rearing its head again.”

Of the individuals convicted today, some have been sentenced to jail terms of two to ten years while others await sentencing.

Comments have been disabled for legal reasons. 

Read: Man (27) charged after 14-year-old girl raped twice in one night in Birmingham >

Read: ‘A horrifying ordeal’: Teenage girl raped twice in one night by two separate attackers >

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Rónán Duffy

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