Mon, 22 May, 2017
Under the new 2015 Modern Slavery Act, a couple with Romanian origin were sentenced to 14 years in prison after they were found guilty of trafficking a child and several other women into prostitution. Romelia Florentina Radu, aged 32, and Petre Niculescu, aged 39, pleaded guilty of trafficking eight women and a child into trafficking. In addition, another man, George Maracineanu, aged 47 was jailed for two years and eight months for luring a woman into the UK with the promise of work and marriage and then handing her over to the couple to be forced into prostitution. The strong network of the couple could only be dismantled with the joint operation of the Metropolitan and the Romanian Police for over eight months.
During the trial in the Kingston Crown Court at Surrey, the prosecutors said that the couple used to target women from a poor background and used to tell them that they would be provided with work in restaurants or shops in the UK. The prosecution counsel, Caroline Haughey, told the court that the defendant earned huge money from the sexual exploitation of these women who were put onto the street to work as sex slaves with false promise. She also added that they stole the innocence of their youngest victim too. The couple, who had been in operation since 2013, promised the 14-year old victim work as a waitress. Being one of the nine siblings from a low-income family, she took the opportunity with both hands. Once she arrived in the UK, she was forced to wear sexy clothes and forced to wear heavy makeup to conceal her young age. She was compelled to have sex with men for over four months in return for money which went directly to the couple. In her statement, the victim said that she was forced to have sex every day and it was painful for her. She also added that she would live in fear and was instructed not to reveal her age to anyone. She was threatened with violence on herself and that on her family if she resisted or told her real name to anyone.
Niculescu Petre was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Photograph: Met police/PNS
The police came to know about this sex trafficking game after a 41-year old victim came to the north London police station. She told the police that she came to the UK with Maracineanu who had promised her marriage and work in the UK. Other women were handled by the couple told the court that they were recruited by friends and family members of the couple and brought to the UK with the promise of a better life. One of them said that she was offered to work as a prostitute when she was 14. She said no, and then four years later, she came to the UK with Radu for work where she came to know that she would be working as a prostitute. A few others knew that they would be working as sex workers, but were told that they would be given a significant share of the earnings. Once they arrived, the couple told them that they were in debt and owed money to the couple for travel costs, living costs in Paddington and for their space on the street. Even though the women earned £250-300 per night, they were only left with £25-30 per day for their work.
One of the victims told the police that Niculescu punched her and hit her with a pole from the hoover. Another victim said that she was once beaten by a man who did not give her money for her service. She stated that the client was high and kept on hitting her during and after sex. The DC told the court that all the women were abused sexually, physically and mentally and were brave enough to come forward to testify and give proof against the defendants.
The couple initially denied having anything to do with the women, but the bravery of the women has helped the investigators and the court to stop these criminals from taking advantage of women again.