Husband and wife team convicted of human trafficking and controlling prostitution
Rebekah Hummerstone and Fiona Robertson prosecuted spouses Nicusor and Rodica Gheorghe for trafficking vulnerable women from Romania to the UK to be sexually exploited as prostitutes in brothels across London.
The defendants were unanimously convicted of human trafficking and controlling prostitution after a 5 week trial at Southwark Crown Court. The case involved parallel investigations in Romania and the UK, telephone intercept material and live evidence from 10 victims who gave evidence by video-link from Romania. The victims detailed how the defendants trafficked them to the UK where they worked 16 hours a day as prostitutes under the control of the defendants and were made to forfeit half their earnings to them.
Nicusor Gheorghe was additionally convicted of repeatedly raping the first victim he trafficked to the UK. The Judge concluded the rapes committed against the first victim were not just for sexual gratification but also a way of exercising power and control over the victim.
In sentencing Nicusor Gheorghe to 15 years’ imprisonment and Rodica Gheorghe to 5 years’ imprisonment HHJ Goymer described it as “a sad and sordid tale of desperation and degradation” in which the victims were “callously and cynically exploited, treated as a commodity, treated as vehicles of machinery to be hired out for profit”. The Judge noted that neither defendant had expressed a word of remorse or offered any explanation for what they did having failed to give evidence at their trial.
The Judge commended the police team for the investigation observing it was a lengthy and complex case across two jurisdictions involving vulnerable witnesses. The victims were commended for their courage in coming forward to give their accounts to the court.
Counsel were instructed by David Davies at the Crown Prosecution Service.
This case has received national and local press coverage including: