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Vulnerable boy "sold for sex in red light district"

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A vulnerable teenage boy in local authority care was subjected to a "horrifying and appalling" series of rapes and repeatedly sold for sex in a red light district, a court in the UK has heard.

The trial of 12 men accused of committing a variety of sexual offences against the boy, mainly in the Birmingham area, was told he has been left "traumatised" and will give evidence by videolink.

Opening the case against the defendants at Warwick Crown Court, prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC said the complainant - now aged in his early 20s - was first spoken to by police in 2009.

Ms Cottage said of the alleged victim: "Regrettably, his contemporaneous complaints were not fully investigated by West Midlands Police in 2009 and 2010."

But during a subsequent inquiry in 2012, the teenager - who cannot be identified because of a court order - was able to point police towards those involved in his alleged exploitation.

Ms Cottage said a former Special Constable with Warwickshire Police, 78-year-old Ronald Potter - from Fillongley, near Coventry, was among those standing trial for the alleged abuse.

The barrister told jurors: "The boy pointed out the home address of a number of perpetrators and will give evidence through a videolink room.

"There are 12 defendants in this trial, all charged with sexual offences in circumstances where children were sexually groomed and exploited by older males in and around the Birmingham area."

The main complainant in the case was aged in his early teens at the time the offences are alleged to have started in late 2009, Miss Cottage said.

The youngster - who is alleged to have been sold "like goods" in the Kent Street area of Birmingham - had a troubled family background and absconded from a care home in the East Midlands for a number of days, the court heard.

Ms Cottage added: "Upon on his return, the police spoke to him and as a result of what he said he was interviewed on video twice.

"The prosecution say the videos are a vivid description of waiting on the street (with one of the defendants) for men, for business, for money for drugs.

"He was at the very start of the process that saw him being groomed by mature adult males for prostitution, rape and violence."

Ten of the 12 defendants - who are aged between 25 and 78 and from the West Midlands, London and Stoke-on-Trent - deny arranging or facilitating child prostitution.

Other charges on a 58-count indictment include offences of rape, attempted rape, sexual activity with a child and engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

The trial is expected to finish in April.