- Gang sent young victims highly sexualised text messages before abusing them
- Judge says they treated the girls 'like trophies' and 'spurred each other on'
- Police pay tribute to bravery of young victims who gave evidence against gang
A sex gang who sexually abused vulnerable girls have been jailed and banned from using Snapchat after a court heard they treated their victims like 'trophies'.
Taiyab Hussain, Shaheem Ratyal and Sohail Ali, all aged 19, and 18-year-old Mohammed Rizwan, were arrested when a teenager realised she had been groomed after watching a sex education video.
A judge took the unusual step of banning them from using the Snapchat messaging app for eight years as he jailed them for between four and five years each today.
The defendants, all from Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire, pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a child and other sexual offences in February.
Passing sentence at Stafford Crown Court, Judge Jonathan Gosling said of the men: 'At the time of the offences they were 17 or 18 and known to each other to different degrees through association, school and social media, although not all of them knew each other.
'It is clear from the evidence retrieved from various devices that there was communication between the defendants and it does establish their common interest in meeting and sexually abusing these girls.
These were young men treating the young girls like trophies, and to some extent, one was spurring on another.'
The judge said the four victims, one who had only just turned 13, meant nothing to the men and had been subjected to 'extreme' offences.
Hussain was given a five-year sentence after sending highly sexualised text messages before abusing an 'out of control' teenager in his car in the presence of another child.
Rizwan and Ratyal were both given sentences of four years and four months.
A judge said the four-man gang, who also included Saheem Ratyal (left) and Sohail Ali (right), treating the young girls they abused 'like trophies'
Ali admitted offences against a 13-year-old and was given a four-year term in a young offenders' institution.
Staffordshire Police said the charges were brought after five girls were sexually abused between December 2016 and March 2017.
Detective Inspector Simon Caton, the Senior Investigating Officer for the inquiry, said after the case: 'I welcome today's sentences and I would like to pay tribute to the girls' incredible bravery in coming forward initially and throughout this long and complex investigation
'Tackling child sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, both current and non-recent, remains an absolute priority for us.
'I would urge anyone who has been a victim of such crimes to come forward and report this to us, we will listen and you and your families will be supported by specially-trained detectives and social workers.'
John Wood, chair of the Staffordshire Safeguarding Children Board, said: 'The fact that the victims were willing to stand up and give evidence in court, if needed, was a key part in persuading those responsible to admit their offences before the trial.
'I admire their bravery, as the primary concern of all the agencies involved in this case has been to ensure the young victims were seen, heard and protected.
'Today's sentencing sends the clear message that child sexual abuse will not be tolerated in our communities and that people who report such matters will be listened to and supported.
'However, we cannot be complacent and the Safeguarding Children Board is working with a wide range of partners across Staffordshire to do everything that we reasonably can to help prevent child sexual abuse.'.