OLD BAILEY OPINION: Dangers of prejudice highlighted by actions of these vile men

GUILTY: (From left to right) Vikram Singh, Arshad Jani, Asif Hussain, Taimoor Khan, Mohammed Imran and Akbari Khan
GUILTY: (From left to right) Vikram Singh, Arshad Jani, Asif Hussain, Taimoor Khan, Mohammed Imran and Akbari Khan

On Monday I sat in the Old Bailey court as Judge John Bevan handed down 82-and-a-half years of jail time to six child sex abusers.

In the same court was one of the brave girls whose nine days of evidence helped to convict them.

A second brave girl has signalled that she is to sue Bucks County Council for ‘failing to protect her’.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, the first girl said that she was ‘robbed of her teenage years’ by the horrendous actions of the six men.

And it is clear from the long sentences that Judge John Bevan shared Aylesbury’s collective outrage at the crimes.

I believe that the sentences were rightly long.

I’ve said before that this is one of the hardest cases I have ever had to cover. My overwhelming feeling is that there are no winners. There just aren’t.

Watching some of the men tremble and others sob as their lives were effectively ended gave me no pleasure.

Of course, knowing that the victims of these men still suffer greatly is far worse. And I am in no doubt that this is not the only incident of its kind in the Vale.

Children are being groomed for sex by adults every day.

We must be vigilant for the signs of child sexual exploitation.

One of the starkest things for me to come from this case is how easy it is for people to fall into the trap of dehumanising others who don’t share the same backgrounds as themselves.

That is what these men did to their two victims – they regarded them as subhuman, and consequently something to be passed around and exploited.

Judge Bevan said that the men would not have committed crimes against girls in their own community.

Equally though – and going by some of the reaction following their conviction – we must be careful not to let a case such as this lead to the stereotyping of entire communities.

Recently we have also seen opinions expressed in the current refugee crisis debate that seem to class those from other countries and cultures as ‘others’ and not like us too.

We need to teach all our children that no one is better than anyone else, or this vicious circle will only continue.