|A general view of Newcastle Crown court|
Police paid a convicted child rapist almost £10,000 to spy on parties where they believed underage girls would be sexually abused, a court has heard.
A total of 17 men and one woman have been convicted of, or have admitted, charges including rape, supplying drugs and inciting prostitution, in a series of trials at Newcastle Crown Court.
During the trials, it was heard that Northumbria Police recruited a sex offender years after he drugged an underage girl and invited another man to rape her after he had done so.
The convict, who can only be named as XY, was tasked to assist the force with its investigation into child sexual exploitation in Newcastle.
Subsequent trials, which until now were unreportable, have heard girls were groomed by men who gave them cannabis, alcohol and the designer drug Mkat at parties, then encouraged into having sex.
Police spoke to 108 potential victims and over the course of four trials 20 young women gave evidence.
Those prosecuted were from the Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish communities and mainly British-born, with most living in the West End of Newcastle.