Husband and wife sex-traffickers who 'treated women like vehicles for hire' are jailed for 20 years

A husband and wife who ran a sex-trafficking ring from their home in east London for nearly a decade have been jailed for 20 years between them.

Romanian nationals Nicusor and Rodica Gheorghe recruited 10 women, some as young as 18, and took them to England where they were forced to have sex with multiple men each night.

When police stormed their building in Barking in 2019 they found several women locked in one room.

The pair, who are now divorced, were convicted by jurors on Friday following a five-week trial at Southwark Crown Court.

Nicusor, 34, was jailed for 15 years after being convicted of two counts of rape, nine counts of trafficking, 10 counts of controlling prostitution for gain, and one count of money laundering.

Mother-of-two Rodica, 33, who the judge said played a lesser role in the offending, was jailed for five years after being convicted of two counts of human trafficking, eight counts of controlling prostitution for gain, and one count of money laundering

Judge Andrew Goymer said the case was "a sad and sordid tale of degradation and exploitation".

“Those women were being callously and cynically exploited, treated as a commodity, treated like vehicles or machinery to be hired out,” Judge Goymer said.

The pair were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Friday
  • The victims

One of the women was a family friend the pair enticed to the UK with the promise of waitressing work.

Instead, she spent four years as a prostitute, police said, having sex with up to 15 men in one evening for which she was paid £20 a week.

Nicusor also raped the woman, police said, threatening to tell her family she was a prostitute if the victim did not do as she was told.

She only escaped after confiding in a member of the public who helped her return to Romania.

Another woman told police she had to work every day between 2pm and 6am, and was expected to pay more than £1,000 a week to the Gheorghes for advertising costs, food and rent.

If the women fell asleep during their hours of work, they were fined £50 by the couple, police said.

Investigations showed the duo transferred more than £150,000 out of the UK during the offending period, obtained from the sexual exploitation of others, to build property and buy businesses in Romania.