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Five convicted of trafficking women from Hungary to be prostitutes in the UK

07/01/2014

Five members of an organised crime group, which brought young women into the UK from Hungary for prostitution, have been convicted of conspiring to traffic women into the UK for sexual exploitation.

Hungarian nationals Mate Puskas, Zoltan Mohacsi, Istvan Toth and Peter Toth, along with Victoria Brown, Puskas's former girlfriend, were today found guilty following a trial at Hove Crown Court.  Istvan Toth and Peter Toth were convicted in their absence.

The charges covered more than 60 incidents spanning just under two years, during which young women were brought from Hungary into the UK with their 'profiles' uploaded on to a website advertising sexual services for sale.

Individuals would respond by calling mobile phones controlled by the defendants, who then arranged for them to meet the young women at a hotel or at houses run by the defendants as brothels.

Portia Ragnauth, Acting Chief Crown Prosecutor CPS South East, said:

"None of us can imagine how desperate the victims were in this case. In many instances, they came to the UK to try to escape financial difficulties at home. Payments for their flights were often made by one of the five individuals convicted today. Once in the UK these 'debts' were used as a hold over the women who were forced to work for up to 12 hours a day.

"When the women told the group they did not want to work as prostitutes, threats would be made against them and their families back in Hungary. Threats were also made to expose the work they had been doing in the UK in their home country.

"I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the bravery of the victims who gave evidence in this case, one who gave evidence from behind a screen in the UK, and two others who gave evidence via a live video-feed from Hungary. We know how incredibly difficult it was for them, especially as we know that the reach of this criminal group extends back to Hungary. It has not been easy for them, but we hope that today's verdict brings them justice and allows them to now move on with their lives.

"The CPS was assisted greatly by the police and judicial authorities in Hungary to bring this prosecution. Without this cross-border cooperation achieving justice for these women would have been considerably more difficult."

Background

Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, recently held a meeting with criminal justice partners, experts and interested parties to identify how the criminal justice system can strengthen the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking.

Following the discussions, the CPS is now preparing an action plan that will set out key actions to tackle the issue and improve the CJS response to human trafficking offences.

Charges

Mate Puskas, Zoltan Mohacsi, Istvan Toth, Peter Toth and Victoria Brown were each convicted of one count of:

CONSPIRACY TO TRAFFIC WOMEN INTO THE UNITED KINGDOM FOR SEXUAL EXPLOITATION, Contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are four national casework divisions: Central Fraud, Welfare Rural & Health, Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. A 'virtual' 14th Area is CPS Direct which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  3. At 31 March 2013 we employed a workforce of approximately 6840 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2350 prosecutors and 4110 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:  www.cps.gov.uk.
  4. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.