A man has been found guilty of sex trafficking, after a woman who feared being forced into prostitution at a Coventry brothel was rescued.
Romanian national Robert Enescu was convicted at Warwick Crown Court yesterday (9 September) of trafficking the victim, who was three months pregnant, from his homeland and planning to exploit her via sex industry websites.
The 26-year-old held the woman hostage for two days in squalid conditions at a Coventry address and made her pose in lingerie for adult contact site profile pictures.
She was rescued by officers from West Midlands Police on 20 February last year, after Enescu booked a taxi to take her to a brothel in St Christian's Road.
The next day, police raided the address and safeguarded a number of eastern European woman suspected of being used as sex slaves, and on 22 February, Enescu was arrested at his home in Kingfield Road, Foleshill.
He denied involvement in trafficking the woman, who had arrived in the UK at Luton Airport on 16 February, but was charged and subsequently found guilty, before being jailed for nine years in his absence - after skipping court bail on the eve of his Crown Court trial.
A wanted appeal has now been issued for Enescu and West Midlands Police is working with other forces across the UK and Europol in a bid to trace him and bring him to justice.
The investigation was conducted by officers on the Public Protection Unit based at Coventry Central police station. Detective Inspector Wes Martin led the investigation, and said: "The woman responded to an online advert for masseuses - she thought it was a legitimate job but within hours realised she was in danger.
"She was kept locked in a room at an address in Enfield with no food or heating, just a mattress to lie on and a bucket as a toilet. She said she had no way to escape: the door was locked from the outside and had no handle on the inside. She was too afraid to jump from a window as she was pregnant; she tried to raise the alarm by shouting help but no-one replied. She had a phone but there was no signal.
"Two days later Enescu drove her to an address in Coventry and it was clear he intended to force her into prostitution.
"In Coventry she was kept captive in squalid conditions and subject to degrading treatment. She was eventually informed she would be released to a brothel where she would work as a sex worker and have to give half of her earnings to Enescu.
"When our officers intercepted the taxi - following a call from the concerned driver - all she had in her possession was a bag of around 50 condoms Enescu had given her. He’d earlier smashed her mobile phone and stolen what money she had.
"My officers worked tremendously hard to secure this conviction: they safeguarded the woman, liaised with officers in Romania, helped return her safely home and kept in touch while the case progressed. It was this compassionate and sensitive response which reassured the woman and gave her the confidence to come back to the UK to give evidence.
"If anyone has any information on Enescu’s whereabouts I would encourage them to get in touch."
People can contact Det Sgt Mircetic at the Public Protection Unit in Coventry by calling 101 or via Live Chat at WMP Online.
Alternatively, call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.