A takeaway boss tried to recruit six girls as child prostitutes, one as young as 12, in a “cold, clinical, exploitation of the desperate and vulnerable”, a court heard today.

Azad Miah, 44, is said to have “hounded” and “stalked” girls to have sex for money while at the same time allegedly running a brothel from his city centre premises in Carlisle, Cumbria.

A jury at Carlisle Crown Court was told he also paid regularly for the sexual services of a girl over a four-year period from when she was aged 14.

Opening the case, Tim Evans, prosecuting, said: “This is a case in which this defendant sought to persuade a variety of young girls, some of whom he knew were under 16, to have sex with him for money via the provision of drugs or drink.

”Those requests were either made face to face when girls either came into the The Spice of India in Botchergate or were made by telephone calls and texts.

”The attempted persuasion was persistent. He would hound young girls for periods of weeks or months face to face or over the phone. Perhaps most worryingly, he would stalk some of them, following them home.

”Some of the girls that he had made approaches to did indeed have sex with him for money.”

Mr Evans said many of the alleged victims aged from 12 to 16 were told by Miah that their friends were also having sex with him for money.

He told the jury it would hear “in essence” that The Spice of India, since closed, not only operated as a takeaway restaurant but as a brothel “where women attended and prostituted themselves”.

The prosecutor said many of the girls involved in the case were addicted to drugs or came from troubled backgrounds.

”It is the Crown’s case that the defendant deliberately targeted girls who fell into that category or who had other problems with the law,” he said.

”The defendant believed that such girls would be more likely to give in to his persistent offers ... and they may find themselves less likely to be believed if they complained to the police against a responsible, respected restaurateur of the city.”

Mr Evans said it may be that Miah’s defence team would portray the alleged victims as “the sort of girls who will lie”.

He continued: “On the facts of this case you may think that far from being an argument for the defence, the character and background of these girls is a powerful part of the prosecution case.”

”It supports the argument, the Crown say, that this was cold, clinical, calculated exploitation of the desperate and vulnerable; drug addicts very often.”

Miah denies eight counts of paying for the sexual services of a child between 2005 and 2009, eight counts of inciting child prostitution between 2007 and 2011 and one count of keeping a brothel between 2005 and 2011.