Police defend paying child rapist £10,000 to spy on sex ring

A chief constable said dangerous men would not be behind bars if he had not decided to pay a convicted child rapist almost £10,000 to spy on parties where it was suspected under-age girls were fed drugs and sexually abused.

Abdul Sabe arriving at Newcastle Crown Court who has been found guilty following the force's Operation Shelter into child sexual exploitation in Newcastle. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

The NSPCC was “appalled” Northumbria Police chief Steve Ashman authorised the paedophile’s deployment, which can only be reported now that 18 people have been convicted or admitted offences prosecuted in a series of trials related to child sexual exploitation in Newcastle.

The informant, known only as XY, was recruited despite being a sex offender who had drugged an under-age girl and invited another man to rape her after he had done so, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

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Years later, the force recruited him to work as an informant on the massive Operation Sanctuary inquiry, one strand of which, known as Operation Shelter, has just finished going through the courts.

Mr Ashman, who is due to retire, accepted some people will find his decision to use XY “very, very difficult to accept”. Defending the deployment, he told a news conference: “It’s a decision that we’ve had to wrestle with ourselves but I can categorically state sitting here today that there are dangerous men behind bars now and vulnerable people protected that would not have been the case had we not used that informant.”

He added: “We have to step into a murky, a dangerous and a shadowy world and the people who are going to provide us with that information that will protect victims, that will stop other women and girls becoming victims of this abuse, it’s not the postmaster or the district nurse, or some other person in a position of authority.

“They are the very people who themselves may well have committed these vile acts.

“This is the world that we have to step into in policing and it is dangerous and it is difficult but that is what we are prepared to do.

“We’ll do everything we can within the law to bring these people to justice.”

Mr Ashman insisted the parameters stated XY was not to be deployed to attend parties, although he could not be 100 per cent sure the informant stuck to those rules.

He said: “I’m a little concerned that people have got the impression in their heads that we were sending him into these sessions - we weren’t.

“This is about finding out who is going, where they are taking place, what car is such and such driving, where is he living at this moment in time, does he have access to drugs, where do they buy the drugs from.

“It’s not about someone being amongst the offending.”