Two men have been found guilty of trafficking vulnerable girls around the UK and then raping them. The pair, John James Purcell, 31, and John Delaney, 33, took two underage girls from a care home near Wrexham, north Wales, and had sex with them, the trial at Mold crown court found.
Purcell, who is from Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, was found guilty of four sex trafficking offences and two rapes.
Delaney, from Wrexham, was convicted of three sex trafficking offences, two rapes and one sexual assault. Both men are white and from the travelling community.
Nazir Azfal, former chief crown prosecutor for the north-west, said the case proved that child sexual exploitation was perpetrated by all ethnic groups.
“This was a grooming gang, even if only two men were eventually convicted. There was evidence that other men were involved. The modus operandi is the same as other grooming gangs. Chaotic and troubled young girls are sadly easy prey for evil men,” he said.
The court heard that two 15-year-old girls were picked up from a children’s home near Wrexham, taken to hotels for sex and given alcohol between December 2011 and April 2012.
Delaney told the court he and Purcell first met one of the teenagers when she flagged down their van and asked for a lift. She told them she was from a traveller family and had moved to Wrexham with her parents, the jury heard. He said the girls lied about their age and had consensual sex with each of the men.
He also denied knowing that either of the girls lived in a children’s home, describing how, on two occasions, they had dropped them off outside a row of shops at their request.
Afzal said the case showed that groomers were of all kinds. “This demonstrates that there is no community in which this behaviour is not taking place. If we focus on one ethnicity we put victims at risk.”
Two further men were found not guilty of being part of the gang. Todd Wickens was cleared of trafficking and two counts of rape. John McGrath was found not guilty of rape.