Ringleader Arshid Hussain – who led the appalling sexual and physical abuse of young teenagers in the town who were often then trafficked and sold for sex in Sheffield and other locations – was jailed for 35 years at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday.
His brothers Basharat Hussain, 39, and Bannaras Hussain, 36, got 25 years and 19 years respectively.
Judge Sarah Wright said their offending had been so serious she would depart from normal legal guidelines on maximum prison sentences for their offences.
Arshid Hussain, who is wheelchair-bound after being shot in 2005, was considered for a discretionary life sentence by the judge but his ‘numerous chronic health issues’ meant he could not be described as a danger to the public.
Judge Wright said: “Despite the very serious nature of the offences, a life sentence is not necessary to achieve the aim of public protection in this case.”
The Hussains’ uncle, Qurban Ali, 53, was jailed for 10 years and female accomplice Karen MacGregor, 58, for 13 years after the trial heard of her ‘Hansel and Gretel’ role in persuading vulnerable young women to live with her before making them ‘earn their keep’ by having sex with Asian men.
Co-defendant Shelley Davis, 40, was given an 18-month suspended sentence after the court was told she had also been a vulnerable teenager at the time of her offending.
Jailing the gang, who were said to have ruled Rotherham with impunity, Judge Sarah Wright told them: “The harm you have caused is of unimaginable proportions.”
The sentences – adding up to a combined 102 years – came at the end of a two-month trial involving 15 victims.
Many of the gang’s victims and their families watched from a packed public gallery as sentence was passed in an emotional courtroom.
Victims and their loved ones were in tears as Judge Wright outlined the gang’s ‘appalling catalogue of offending’.
The judge told the defendants: “Each in your own way perpetrated or facilitated the sexual abuse of these young girls.
“Your victims were targeted, sexualised and in some cases subjected to acts of a degrading and violent nature.
“Each of your victims was vulnerable in some way, either because they had unsettled home lives, had previously suffered ill treatment and abuse, were in local authority care or were naive young girls who despite being from loving and caring families were reaching adolescence and were susceptible to the attention that was given to them.
“Many of the victims were subjected to repeated abuse. There was a pattern of abuse which was repeated over and over again. Some victims were groomed, some coerced and intimidated.
“They were made to feel that they could not report what was happening to them.
“Even if they did, no action was taken and you were free to continue your exploitation of them.”
She told Arshid: “You and your brothers, Bannaras Hussain and Basharat Hussain, were well known in the area – you drove distinctive cars and had a reputation for violence.
“There was a perception by some of your victims that you appeared, in their words, to ‘rule Rotherham’.
“You exploited that to the full.”
As Judge Wright passed sentence on Arshid, there was a shout of ‘Yes’ and gasps from the packed public gallery.
Some of the victims and their relatives, who held hands on the balcony of the court, hugged each other.
Hussain, who was appearing via video link from Doncaster Prison, showed no reaction at the sentence, having appeared to be asleep for most of the three-hour hearing.
Judge Wright praised the ‘immeasurable courage’ of the women who had given evidence.