Revealed: How one girl was grilled by 11 barristers for six days and called a liar - but refused to back down and laid bare the horror of Muslim rape gangs
A car door was flung open and the two girls were pushed out into the darkness. They fell awkwardly on to the moorland heather as the vehicle accelerated away and the tail-lights disappeared into the night.
The girls grabbed each other, huddling together, frozen in fear. After several minutes, when they were sure the car wasn’t coming back, they looked across the barren landscape of Saddleworth Moor towards the lights of civilisation blinking faintly in the distance. Then they began the long 14-mile walk back to town.
It was a little after 8.30 the next morning when Sara Rowbotham parked her car outside the sexual health support service she ran in Rochdale, ten miles north-east of Manchester.
As she stepped out of the vehicle, she saw the two shivering girls sitting on the steps.
They had made it back and had been waiting there for hours. Before being dumped on the moors the night before, both had been violently raped by several men.
As a crisis intervention co-ordinator for the NHS, the
reports she presented to the authorities told of a sickening epidemic of sexual abuse.
She relayed details of teenage girls being plied with alcohol and coerced into unprotected sexual intercourse with multiple men, many of whom were more than 30 years older than them.
She also told of underage girls being threatened and picked up in car parks and taken to houses across the town, where they would be passed around dozens of men.
In one case, a man in his 40s poured petrol on the head of a 14-year-old girl with learning difficulties and threatened to set her alight unless she performed a sex act on him.
Finally, in 2011, the police began making arrests, leading to 11 men being charged. Only two men had been investigated in 2009, but more were now known to detectives.
Six girls testified at the first case, and one of these girls appeared via video-link from a police station and was questioned by 11 barristers over a period of six days.
The defence had no other strategy than to say this didn’t happen, and day after day she’d be told she was a liar.
When she had been questioned by the ninth barrister, she finally lost her temper – much to the lawyer’s delight.
Nine of the accused were found guilty at that case.
The men were jailed for up to 25 years each.
Outside the court, a statement from one of the victims was read out. Speaking of her ‘brilliant relief’, she said: ‘After all these years, something has been done.’
But not enough. Not yet. Not nearly enough.
Robin Tilbrook - Chairman of English Democrats talks about grooming gangs in England