rotherham sex abuse
(Clockwise from top left) Basharat, Arshid, Bannaras Hussain, Shelley Davies, Qurban Ali and Karen MacGregor South Yorkshire Police

Members of a child sex abuse ring in Rotherham who subjected young girls to years of rape, violence and forced prostitution have received a combined sentence of more than 100 years. The gang of four men and two women targeted 15 girls, one as young as 11, over a 14-year period from 1987 and 2003.

Led by brothers Arshid, Basharat and Bannaras Hussain, all six members were convicted on 24 February for 55 offences involving sexual exploitation between them. These included rape, sexual assault, abduction and false imprisonment.

Arshid, 40, and Basharat, 39, were found guilty of multiple rapes and indecent assaults, receiving prison sentences of 35 and 25 years respectively. Bannaras, 36, admitted 10 charges including rape and indecent assault prior to the trial and was jailed for 19 years.

The brothers' uncle, Qurban Ali, 53, was found guilty of conspiracy to rape and jailed for 10 years. Karen MacGregor, 58, received 13 years imprisonment and Shelley Davies, 40, was given an 18-month suspended sentence after being convicted of conspiracy to procure prostitutes and false imprisonment.

Sentencing the gang at Sheffield Crown Court on 26 February, Judge Sarah Wright told the group: "The harm you have caused is of unimaginable proportions."

Subjected to 'acts of a degrading and violent nature'

Known around the South Yorkshire town by their nicknames of Mad Ash, Bash and Bono, the trio of siblings were drug dealers who knew how to use violence and fear to groom their victims, the three-month trial into their case had heard. The gang's victims were subjected to "acts of a degrading and violent nature" with jurors hearing how young girls were passed around men who raped and beat them.

Statements from victims were read out in court during the sentencing. Many survivors told of how they felt dirty, ashamed and full of guilt since the abuse during their teenage years. Some went on to develop mental health problems including eating disorders, self-harming and agoraphobia.

The court heard how one young girl, who met by Bannaras when she was just 12 years old, was beaten by her own family when they discovered she had been sexually abused.

Prosecutor Michelle Colborne QC said of Bannaras: "[Bannaras] was indifferent to whether she consented or not. When her brothers found out, they were furious with her and would physically assault her because she was involved sexually with an Asian man."

She said Bannaras abused another victim in a car park next to Rotherham Police Station, and told the court how the sister of another of his victims described her sister as a "broken human being". Colborne said one woman had described the Hussain brothers as "a pack of animals".

'He was beating me on a daily basis'

Another victim, groomed by Arshid, said she was made to feel like a "criminal" when she went to the authorities for help, telling the Victoria Derbyshire programme: "He spent so much time talking to me, getting to know me and always paying me compliments, saying I was beautiful. The boys my age never did that. That attention was nice.

"I never saw myself as a victim until about three years ago and I always thought that he was my boyfriend. But then he did start to become really controlling, he was beating me on a daily basis. He completely isolated me from my family and friends. It got to the point where I felt I no one else to run to."

Her parents put her into foster care at the age of 15 but the abuse got worse. She said: "They couldn't cope with what was going on and they thought it would make me safer. The authorities actually said to [Arshid] as long as he picks me up at the top of the street and get me home for 10 o'clock then he could have access to me. So it got worse when I was in care because he could have contact with me at anytime.

"I was never treated as a victim. I was called a mistress, a little criminal. When you have you a majority of people treating you that way it makes it so much harder to recognise yourself as a victim. The amount of failings by the police and council is just so shocking."

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 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.