Jailed: Sex-trafficking duo ‘treated women like vehicles for hire’

Eight co-defendants charged with bribery will appear at Southwark Crown Court next month

Romanian nationals Nicusor and Rodica Gheorghe were jailed at Southwark Crown Court - Credit: PA

A husband and wife team who “callously and cynically exploited” vulnerable women to run their lucrative sex-trafficking racket have been jailed.

Romanian nationals Nicusor and Rodica Gheorghe recruited 10 women - some as young as 18 - and took them to England where they were forced to have sex with multiple men each night at a brothel in Barking.

The pair – who are now divorced – operated a brothel in Barking, east London, from 2010 until 2019 when police stormed their building and discovered multiple women locked in one room.

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 at Southwark Crown Court on Friday afternoon - March 11 - judge Andrew Goymer said: “During this trial, the jury and I heard evidence from 10 Romanian women who were driven into prostitution – it was not the lifestyle of choice.

“It was a sad and sordid tale of degradation and exploitation.

“Those women were being callously and cynically exploited, treated as a commodity, treated like vehicles or machinery to be hired out.”

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Nicusor, 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.

Nicusor Gheorghe

Nicusor Gheorghe - Credit: Met Police

Mother-of-two Rodica, 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.

Rodica Gheorghe

Rodica Gheorghe - Credit: Met Police

The judge commended the victims and the officers in the “difficult and distressing” case.

Detectives from the Met’s specialist crime command began investigating the couple after intelligence was received from the Romanian police, who intercepted phone calls from 2018. 

Det Sgt Chris Weatherstone said: “This lengthy and complex investigation over several years has dismantled an organised crime group (OCG) who were exploiting women in London for their own financial gain.

“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.

"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."