Two Romanian women who were trafficked into the UK on the promise of hotel work were forced into prostitution, a court has heard.Advertisement
The teenagers, who can not be named for legal reasons, were beaten, raped and threatened by men they believed to be their boyfriends when they arrived in Preston last July.
Two men, Marius Petre, 26, and Adrian Matei, 34, are on trial accused of trafficking the 18-year-olds into the UK for sexual exploitation, causing or inciting prostitution for gain and rape.
A third man Ion Ionut, 35, is accused of assisting in the running of a brothel and raping one of the women.
Opening the trial at Preston Crown Court, Robert Golinski, prosecuting, said the women had met Petre and Metai in Romania.
Within weeks they had struck up relationships when the men, also Romanian nationals, who promised to bring them to the UK – telling them they would be able to get work as hotel chambermaids.
But Mr Golinski said: “These relationships completely changed once they arrived in Preston. They changed and they changed very quickly. The change in the nature of these relationships is an indication of the way in which these girls were exploited by the men they had trusted.
“In fact, having brought them to the UK, a long way from home the defendants went on to threaten the girls and force them to work as prostitutes.”
The women were brought to a terraced house in Longworth Street, Ribbleton, where the defendants were living, along with two older Romanian women who were working as prostitutes.
Websites were set up to market the young women as prostitutes and they were forced to work long hours with little sleep, handing over all their earnings to the men.
Each day the women were allowed a short trip to a local shop. If they wanted fresh air they were only allowed onto the back yard, the court heard.
When one of the women tried to run out of the house, Petre brought her back and pushed her to the floor and struck her with a mobile phone charger, as he grabbed her around her throat.
The other woman was struck “again and again” by Matei, who threatened to take her to a field and kill her.
Mr Gollinski said: “The young women were frightened of the defendants. They were obviously in a vulnerable position and were completely dependent upon them.
“They were taught such English that they would need in order to carry out their work as prostitutes.
“One woman was raped by Matei, the man she had trusted and believed she was in a relationship with when she came to the UK.
“These rapes were anal rapes where she was forced in order that she could then offer that service to her customers as a prostitute.
“The other woman was raped by Petre, again a man she trusted. She told the police she was forced to have anal sex because she needed to get used to it in order that she could offer it to her customers.”
The second woman was also raped twice by Ionut, whose role in the operation was to provide protection for the women.
Officers from Lancashire Police raided the brothel on July 27 2015, seizing mobile phones and a computer which contained evidence the women were being used as prostitutes.
The older women – two Romanians aged 25 – were also working as escorts but were not working under pressure, the court heard.
The younger women were interviewed through interpreters and said they had been working in Preston for around two weeks. In that time, one of the women said she had earned around £1,000 but had been forced to hand it all over to the men. The older women were allowed to keep their earnings, the court heard. Petre, Matei and Ionut were arrested and each answered no comment to the majority of questions.
However Petre said he had been in a relationship with one of the women but there had been no violence or rapes committed.
Matei said he loved the other woman and denied any involvement in bringing the women to the UK or any criminality.
Ionut said he had not had sex with the woman as she was Petre’s girlfriend and told officers he knew the older women worked as escorts but he played no active role in their work.
Petre and Matei deny trafficking the women into the UK for sexual exploitation and causing or inciting prostitution. Ionut denies assisting in the running of a brothel.
Petre denies two counts of rape in respect of one woman, Matei denies two counts of raping the second woman and Ionut also denies raping the same woman twice.
The trial continues.