A court in Sheffield has sentenced a Slovakian gang to 50 years for child trafficking and forcing a girl to work as a prostitute following an operation by the UK Border Agency and South Yorkshire police.
The two men and one woman orchestrated the 15-year-old Slovakian's passage to the UK and then forced her to sell herself for sex on the streets of Sheffield. She was only rescued from her ordeal when a 'client' called the police believing she was being forced to have sex for money.
Investigations by the UK Border Agency's joint police Immigration Crime Team revealed she may have made the gang £200-£300 by working for 12 hours each night. In court it was estimated she had been made to have sex with at least 40 men.
Welcoming the verdict in Operation Reservoir, UK Border Agency Regional Director Jeremy Oppenheim said: "This was a horrific crime involving the sexual exploitation of a young girl and I am pleased at the tough sentences handed out today."
A jury at Sheffield Crown Court heard how the teenager was snared into a life of prostitution when she ran away from a children's home in Slovakia after attending her mother's funeral in May 2009. The girl, who was placed in a children's home in September 2008, decided not to return after the funeral and instead took a train to the town of Trnava.
The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was promised a better life in Sheffield by Roman Dunka and Alzbeta Dunkova. She was given a passport and together with Dunkova travelled to France by coach and then crossed into the UK.
On arriving in Sheffield she was taken to the home of Dunkova and her husband Marcel Dunka which they shared with others. In the coming weeks she was taken out on to the streets of Sheffield at night and forced to have sex for around £20 or £30 a time. During the day she slept and cleaned the family's house. This was the routine for the Slovak teenager until she escaped in mid June this year by pleading for help from a 'client'.
Detective Chief Inspector for the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber Immigration Crime Team Dave Powell said:
"UK Border Agency officers and police have worked hard to secure these convictions against a group of evil individuals who targeted someone who put her trust in them.
"The victim is now being cared for by a team of professionals who will attempt to help her to rebuild her life and put this misery behind her."
When sentencing the defendants, Judge Roger Keen recommended they be deported on completion of their sentences.