rotherham sex abuse
Top row, from left: Basharat, Arshid and Bannaras Hussain. Bottom row, from left: Karen MacGregor, Qurban Ali, Shelley DaviesSouth Yorkshire Police

A gang of four men and two women, three of whom are brothers, have been convicted of "systematic" child sex abuse crimes in Rotherham. The court heard that the group targeted 15 girls, one as young as 11, over a 14-year period from 1987 and 2003.

The gang, led by brothers Arshid, Basharat and Bannaras Hussain, faced 51 charges and 70 offences between them. These included rape, sexual assault, abduction and false imprisonment.

Arshid and Basharat were found guilty of multiple rapes and indecent assaults. Bannaras, 36, admitted ten charges including rape and indecent assault prior to the trial.

Known around the South Yorkshire town by their nicknames of Mad Ash, Bash and Bono, the trio were drug dealers who knew how to use violence and fear to groom their victims, the trial heard.

The case and scale of abuse has taken years to fully come to light. According to an unpublished Home Office report in 2002, South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council regarded some on the receiving end of the abuse not as victims of grooming, but as youngsters who had merely made a lifestyle choice.

The brothers' uncle, Qurban Ali, 53, was found guilty of conspiracy to rape, while the two women, Karen MacGregor, 58, and Shelley Davies, 40, were also convicted of conspiracy to procure prostitutes and false imprisonment.

All six are due to be sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court on Friday. Two other brothers Majid Bostan, 37 and Sajid Bostan, 38, were cleared of all charges in the case.

During the three-month trial, the court heard how the gang's victims were subjected to "acts of a degrading and violent nature". Jurors heard young girls were passed around men who raped and beat them.

Speaking after the verdict, detective chief inspector Martin Tate said: "The verdict today marks a crucial milestone for those victims and survivors who endured years of violent and horrific sexual abuse at the hands of these vile individuals.

"They have shown incredible bravery, reliving vicious and horrific events for the courts that, for many of these young women, completely shattered their lives and caused life-changing damage. I can't begin to put into words the trauma that these women experienced at such a young age."

The convictions represent the first successful prosecutions of their kind since the publication of the Jay report into child sexual abuse in Rotherham 18 months ago. The damning report, by Professor Alexis Jay, found officials had been "inexcusably slow" in responding to the issue of paedophile gangs run by Asian men.