Husband and wife sex-trafficking duo jailed for ‘treating women like vehicles for hire’

Romanian nationals Nicusor and Rodica Gheorghe recruited women and took them to England, forcing them to have sex with multiple men each night.

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A husband and wife who ran a brothel in Barking, east London for nine years, were jailed today at Southwark Crown Court, convicted of a number of offences including rape, trafficking, controlling prostitution for gain and money laundering.

Romanian nationals Nicusor and Rodica Gheorghe recruited 10 women, some 18-years-old, and took them to England where they were forced to have sex with multiple men each night.

The women who worked in the addresses were mostly Romanian who had travelled to the UK with the help of the duo.

The pair would arrange accommodation for the women and advertise the victim’s sexual services on adult websites.

Ten female victims were brought to the UK between 2010 and 2019. A number of them explained to police officers how they engaged in prostitution as they needed financial help and felt they had little choice.

Some went on to say they did not freely engage in this work and were actively forced by the couple to do so.

One victim in her late teens who had been a family friend was told she would be found work as a waitress.

Nicusor Gheorghe, who has been jailed for 15 years at Southwark Crown Court, London.
Nicusor Gheorghe, who has been jailed for 15 years at Southwark Crown Court, London.

She was told the job was no longer available and made to start work as a sex worker, seeing between 10 and 15 men a night. She recieved £20 a week from the Gheorghes.

Mr. Gheorghe came into the victims room on multiple occasions and raped her, saying her family would suffer if she did not do as she was told.

The court also heard how the women would be fined £50 by the Gheorghes if they fell asleep during their hours of work.

Met detectives began an extensive operation to discover what activities the Gheorghes were conducting in London. Further to this, officers travelled to Romania to obtain accounts from the victims who had returned there.

Investigations showed between 2010 and 2019 Nicusor Gheorghe had transferred £84,000 and Rodica Gheorghe some £71,000 out of the UK. These funds, which were obtained from the sexual exploitation of others, were sent to others abroad to build property and buy businesses in Romania.

Detective Sergeant Chris Weatherstone from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said: “Individuals are often reticent or too afraid to come forward in modern slavery investigations, so it is our job to build a prosecution and dismantle OCGs like this with whatever evidence we can.

Rodica Gheorghe 33, who has been jailed for five years at Southwark Crown Court, London.
Rodica Gheorghe 33, who has been jailed for five years at Southwark Crown Court, London.

“The bravery and courage of the victims in this case to provide evidence against the OCG, helped ensure they were convicted and brought to justice.”

The Gheorghes were convicted by jurors following a five-week trial in which the defendants refused to give evidence in their defence.

Sentencing the pair, judge Andrew Goymer said: “Those women were being callously and cynically exploited, treated as a commodity, treated like vehicles or machinery to be hired out.”

Mr. Gheorghes, 34, was jailed for 15 years after being convicted of two counts of rape, nine counts of trafficking, 10 counts of controlling prostitution for gain, and one count of money laundering.

Mother-of-two Mrs. Gheorghes, 33, who the judge said played a lesser role in the offending, was jailed for five years after being convicted of two counts of human trafficking, eight counts of controlling prostitution for gain, and one count of money laundering.