Two shop worker brothers - one of them from Wigan - who groomed and sexually exploited vulnerable young girls have both received lengthy jail sentences.
Ilavarasan Rajenthiram and his older brother Vinothan Rajenthiram worked at convenience shops owned by their family and at another owned by a friend of their father’s in Birkenhead.
26-year-old Ilavarasan, known as “Ara”, received a 22 and a half year sentence involving 18 and a half years behind bars with an extended licence of four years. Vinothan, who raped one victim, received 18 years involving 14 years in jail and an extended licence of four years.
They worked at two shops in Birkenhead with one at the junction of Grange Road West and Cole Street being the main hub of their activities for grooming victims.
Jailing them Judge Norman Wright said, “You both abused your position in the shops to target teenage girls. You groomed them systematically finding out their names, getting their mobile numbers or using the victim’s modern media WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook. They were subjected to highly sexual comments and behaviour,” said Judge Norman Wright.
He said that they befriended the girls, who were aged 14 and 15, and gave them free sweets, mobile phone top-ups and serving them cigarettes “to win their trust and confidence.”
“Once you had built up their confidence you invited them to go for drives, listen to music, chill out. The final step was to take them back to unoccupied flats and ply them with alcohol. So you provided a heady environment for young adults.”
He said that the “catalyst of alcohol was no doubt calculated to disinhibit or make them more compliant to your sexual desires.
“It was all about your sexual gratification, not friendship, not being mates, but sexual gratification.”
He pointed out that they were considerably older than the victims and targeted young teenagers who were “naive, immature and no doubt impressed by the attentions of older men” who had used an BMW and Audi to drive them to the flats above shops to abuse them.
Judge Wright said that they were both dangerous and posed a significant risk of causing serious harm by committing further offences.
Ilavarasan, of Grove Road, Wallasey Village, was convicted of 18 sex offences of sexual activity and sexual assault involving six girls and two of perverting the course of justice.
Vinothan, 27,of Billinge Road, Wigan, was convicted of one offence of rape and eight sex offences, involving three girls and one of perverting the course of justice. Both men, who are Sri Lankan, had denied all the allegations against them.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that Vinothan’s rape victim was also one of the girls abused by his brother. Both men were ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life.
Judge Wright pointed out that when one of Vinothan’s victims who was 15 complained to her mum about his behaviour in grabbing her breasts and commenting on them but when she went round he laughed in her face.
On another occasion her brother went round to remonstrate with him and offered to fight but was pulled away by their mum and on a third occasion her youth club worker called round but Vinothan also just laughed at her.
After the hearing Det Supt Dave Brunskill said: “These two men were calculating individuals who knew exactly what they were doing and they would gain the girls’ friendship by giving them free sweets, crisps and drinks, including alcohol.
“In most cases they gained the trust of the young girls and then took the relationship further by coercing the girls, who were under the age of consent, to take part in sexual activity after plying them with alcohol.
“On other occasions they sexually assaulted other girls, who were with the girls already befriended by the offenders, who came into the shop.
“They are sexual predators who went to extraordinary lengths to groom their victims.
“The victims mistakenly believed that these men genuinely had feelings for them and they didn’t realise that they were being groomed and sexually exploited. The realisation of the fact that they have been sexually exploited, used and abused, has had a profound and lasting negative impact on these young women, which could impact on them as they move in to adulthood and could seriously affect their ability to trust people in the future.
“In their victim impact statements, some of the victims’ mothers have spoken about the lasting impact that the actions of these two men have had on their daughters and families.
“This case highlights how children can be exploited without realising anything is wrong until it is too late. It also shows how important it is to know what your children are doing, where they are and who they with, and to encourage them to speak to you about the friendships they are making. It is also important to know who your children befriend online and if you notice changes such as them spending a lot of time away from home, not mixing with the usual crowd, coming home with unexplained presents, you should be asking questions.
“Child Sexual Exploitation (‘CSE’) is a terrible crime which can affect any family, anywhere. We are, however, determined to play our part in tackling the problem. We have a dedicated website, set up with our partners, to help increase awareness and we would urge parents, grandparents and young people to take time out and visit www.listentomystory.co.uk
“In fact every single one of us has a responsibility, so I would urge anyone who has an interest in keeping our children safe to visit the website.
“The site helps victims, and their family and friends, to find the right kind of support and advice. It also has lots of information for young people to help them if they think they are being exploited, or if they are worried one of their friends may be.
“Every one of us has to play our part in putting a stop to the sexual exploitation of children and we all need to know the signs to look for, including if they are regularly missing school, appearing with unexplained gifts, having mood swings or becoming secretive about their use of social media. If you are a child, you may think it’s cool to get involved with older people but they may ask you to perform sexual acts, or take photos of yourself in return and you may be pressured to keep these things secret. If we all look out for these signs and report any suspicions, we can break the cycle.
“These two men were put before the courts following a complex and thorough investigation by an experienced team of detectives and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them, the Crown Prosecution Service and our partners in health and social care for their assistance, support and professionalism throughout.
“ I hope that the conviction of these two men will help the victims to move on with their lives, but I hope that it will also encourage other victims to come forward – no-one should have to suffer in silence.”