Crime and Increased Punishment-Slavery in Modern Britain.
In July 2015 the Modern Slavery Act 2015 came into force consolidating pre-existing legislation and increasing the maximum sentences for this type of offending from 14 years imprisonment to life imprisonment.
On 24th July 2020 His Honour Judge Andrew Lees passed sentence in R v Ilcic and Ioan Dumitru at the Crown Court in Woolwich. Claire Harden-Frost prosecuted the case. The level of criminality shown by the defendants is an example of the need for those increased sentencing powers.
The defendants aged 18 and 24 were convicted of conspiracy to traffick a person for the purposes of sexual exploitation and conspiracy to hold a person in servitude (under s.1 and s.2 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015). They, together with others, plotted to bring a person to the UK to work as a prostitute, it didn’t matter to them that she was not a prostitute nor that she was unwilling to do this kind of work, their sole interest was that she made them money whatever the consequences for her.
In order to get her to travel to the UK they pretended that she would be able to work in a packing factory, in fact on her first day in the UK her identity documents were stolen and she was driven to Edmonton where she was told that she would now be working on the streets having sex for money. When she refused she was threatened with violence and one of the conspirators stood nearby to ensure she did what she was told. She was forced to work on the streets for the next two months. After that the defendants rented premises and advertised her on a website.
She was made to be available for work all day every day. All of the many tens of thousands of pounds she made were given to the conspirators for the benefit of their family. Neither defendant obtained any significant period of lawful employment so they could earn money to support their own family instead they used the victim to do it for them. The victim was given a pittance to buy food and forced to sleep on a mattress on the floor during her time in the UK.
In Summer 2019 she became pregnant as a result of the work she was forced to do. This was an inconvenience to the defendants as it could have meant that she was unable to work. On one occasion she escaped and went to the address of a client who had offered to help her leave the UK. The defendants followed her, broke into the premises and attacked her. Ioan Dumitru beat her with a baseball bat and Ilcic Dumitru hit her. Video footage was found on Ilcic Dumitru’s phone showing the victim naked, battered and bruised being paraded around whilst other conspirators comment on the level of bruising and worry that it might mean she made them less money.
The victim’s ordeal lasted 8 months. Finally in late 2019, after some members of the conspiracy tried to physically abort her pregnancy of 6 months, she found a way to escape. A client smuggled her a phone and she managed to contact her family who contacted the police. The police arrested the defendants and rescued the victim. The subsequent investigation showed that the defendants were planning to move the victim to other premises to continue her work. Analysis of Ilcic Dumitru’s phone showed that he was also knowingly concerned in the supply of class A drugs.
Prior to the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act the defendants could only have been sentenced to a maximum of 14 years imprisonment for an offence of trafficking or for holding a person in servitude. If the Court had passed determinate sentences they would have been released halfway through any sentence term. Additionally as the defendants pleaded guilty they would be entitled to a reduction of up to a third.
Instead the increase in sentencing powers allowed the Judge to take a starting point of 22 and 20 years imprisonment. After reductions in sentence for guilty pleas and mitigating features the Judge passed total sentences of 15 years 3 months and 16 years imprisonment. Further as the sentences were over 7 years in length and for offences that carry life sentences, recent amendments to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 by way of the Release of Prisoners (Alteration of Relevant Proportion of Sentence) Order 2019 mean that the defendants will not be entitled to be released until they have served two thirds of the sentences passed for those offences.
You can read press coverage of the case at https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/brothers-jailed-modern-slavery-romania-prostitution-a4508086.html