Woman who ran Carlisle brothel and trafficked friends to the UK avoids jail

Ana Stefan made almost £146,000 during the 20 months she ran the brothel. Credit: Craig McGlasson

A woman who trafficked two of her friends to the UK and ran a brothel in Carlisle city centre has avoided jail.

Ana Stefan, 30, made almost £146,000 as she ran a brothel for 20 months in a flat on Greystone Road.

She received a suspended 24-month jail term for two years.

The brothel was discovered as police conducted a welfare check at the address in August 2021.

Specially trained officers questioned two women who admitted being involved in sex work. One claimed she didn’t work for anyone else and had arranged travel from Eastern Europe to Cumbria herself. The other insisted she travelled of her own free will.

Police were given a warrant to search the property and also executed a warrant at Stefan’s rented home at Woodrouffe Terrace.

At Carlisle Crown Court, Prosecutor Andrew Evans said: "From that address they recovered three mobile phones belonging to the defendant (Stefan) which, when the data was extracted and analysed, showed a clear picture of her role in operating the brothel."

Police translated three months worth of phone messages from Romanian to English which showcased Stefan was taking half of what the two women earned.

Thousands of messages revealed she was organising sex work being conducted by several different woman at the flat.

Stefan was linked to websites on which the women’s services were advertised. And, when police searched through her bank accounts, they discovered an income of £184,405.

Mr Evans asserted almost £146,000 of this represented the proceeds of illegal trade with Stefan splashing out on holidays or identified purchases overseas, making cash withdrawals totalling nearly £21,000, paying off loans and sending more than £71,000 to many named Romanians.

Stefan admitted one offence of controlling prostitution for gain and two Modern Slavery Act charges of arranging or facilitating the travel of another with a view to exploitation.

Stefan accepted running the brothel, saying the two women named in the trafficking charge were friends working as prostitutes in Romania who had asked her to help with a UK move to earn money.

However, she insisted the brothel business was "not solely my responsibility", adding: "I did not realise what I was doing was a criminal offence or the severity at the time. If I was aware, I would not have become involved."

Judge Nicholas Barker told Stefan: "The running of illegal prostitution in this country is a matter that the courts take seriously.

"Such activities provide the significant risk of exploitation and typically risk to vulnerable young females.

"They also typically generate significant funds for organised crime groups, these funds generating activity in other criminal enterprises."

But finding that Stefan had likely at some stage been a victim herself, there was a realistic chance of rehabilitation and to mitigate the impact on her daughter.

She must work with probation and comply with the strict terms of a five-year slavery and trafficking prevention order.

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