The Attorney General is to review the jail sentences of a Muslim grooming gang after a judge ruled the exploitation of white girls was not racially motivated.
The judge’s decision meant stiffer penalties for racially aggravated crimes could not be applied in the case of the Newcastle-based sex ring.
Judge Penny Moreland said the gang picked out their victims “not because of their race, but because they were young, impressionable, naive and vulnerable”.
Prosecutor John Elvidge told Newcastle Crown Court the victims were “white, British and female” and the defendants were “of Asian extraction” but insisted there was no direct evidence race had played a part in the gang’s process for selecting the girls.
Official sentencing guidelines stipulate that prison terms must be increased if crimes are racially motivated.
Jeremy Wright, the Attorney General, is set to examine the jail sentences after a former justice minister referred the case for review.
A total of 17 men and one woman have been convicted of almost 100 offences including rape and human trafficking of vulnerable women and girls following a Nothumbria police investigation.
Some members of the gang are being sentenced this week with two men jailed yesterday. Mohammed Azram, 35, was sentenced to 12-and-a-half years for sexual assault, supplying drugs and conspiracy to incite prostitution while Jahanger Zaman, 45, was jailed for 29 years for rape, conspiracy to incite prostitution and supply of heroin.