Five members of a sex trafficking gang who brought women from Hungary to work as prostitutes at hotels in Eastbourne have been jailed.
They include Hungarian nationals, brothers Istvan and Peter Toth, from Eastbourne, who are on the run and were sentenced in their absence having been found guilty of conspiring to traffic women into the UK for sexual exploitation following a seven week trial at Hove Crown Court.
The duo and three others, Mate Puskas, Zoltan Mohacsi, and Puskas’s former girlfriend Victoria Brown brought at least 44 women into the country over almost two years, setting them up in hotels and flats across Sussex including hotels and flats in Eastbourne and uploading their profiles on to a website which advertised sexual services for sale.
Jailing the gang Judge Richard Hayward told them they had committed offending behaviour which “society finds repugnant”.
Istvan and Peter Toth were jailed for five years and four years respectively, but both had nine months added to their sentences after being convicted of Contempt of Court for breaking bail.
Judge Hayward said the women, some of them barely adults, were brought into the country and put up in hotels and flats in East Sussex and adverts were placed on an adult website offering sexual services including unsafe sex and extreme sexual acts and the charges were fixed.
Customers who were using the women thought they were texting them directly, when in reality they were texting the defendants who fixed times and charges, and decided where and how long the women would work for.
During the trial, jurors heard that many of the women had come to the UK to escape financial difficulties at home.
Their flights were paid for by the defendants and the debts were used as a hold over the women who were forced to work for up to 12 hours a day.
Prosecutor David Walbank told the court that the women were seeing up to 10 to 15 men a day and charging £100 an hour.
He said many of the women were victims of financial extortion only being left with 10% of their daily earnings while the defendants took the rest.
Threats and force were used as forms of coercion and one woman was told that posters would be put up in her home town telling people about what she was doing if she did not comply, Mr Walbank said.
Portia Ragnauth, acting chief crown prosecutor CPS South East, said that no one could imagine how desperate the victims were in this case.
She said, “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.”