From BBC News
Four men who “brutally” raped a victim when she was a child and “traded” her for cigarettes, money and alcohol have been jailed.
Northumbria Police praised the victim – who was abused over a six-year period – and said she was a “pillar of strength.”
The four had denied rape and sexual assault but were convicted following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court in June.
The men were given a range of jail terms between six and 21 years.
The hearing was told a man offered her to men for sexual purposes in return for cigarettes, money or alcohol.
- Colin Ankers, 45, of Waterville Road, North Shields, convicted of 14 counts of rape and four of indecent assault, was jailed for 21 years extended for one year on licence.
- Philip Taylor, 60, of Whiteley Avenue, Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, convicted of three counts of rape and four of indecent assault, was jailed for 17 years.
- Paul Cavner, 55, of Crofton Street, Blyth, Northumberland, convicted of one count of rape and one of indecent assault, was jailed for nine years.
- Darren Smith, 36, of Irene Avenue, Stoke-on-Trent, – who was a youth at the time – was convicted of five counts of rape and five counts of indecent assault and was jailed for six years.
In a statement read out in court, the victim said: “The trial has been very difficult for me but it’s the closure that I need to be able to move on with my life.
“My childhood was taken at the age of nine when Colin Ankers began to groom me. Out of all of the men who abused me, he was the worst.
“I have never been happy and settled, I have been used as a sex toy, and punch bag.”
During the trial, judge Tim Gittens described the men’s crimes as “heinous and wicked”.
Det Jaclyn Younger of Northumbria Police said: “These horrific abusers are now behind bars thanks to the bravery of this victim.
“She describes herself as a survivor.
“She was a little girl who had to grow up far too fast due to the abuse but she is now stronger than she has ever been.”