A tweet on the Preston Police Twitter page raised concern about some young women living at an address in Longworth Street, which was suspected to be a brothel. Further enquiries led to a police raid at the address, where two young women were found and were thought to have been brought to the UK from Romania and forced into sexual exploitation.
Marius Petre, Adrian Matei and Ionut Ion were arrested at the address. The victims, both aged 18, had only been in the UK for two weeks before they were found. They were transported to the UK from Romania by Petre and Matei with the promise of work as maids at a hotel.
Instead, they were taken to Longworth Street where they were told they would be working as prostitutes. The girls were forced to perform sexual acts on customers and were told that both they and their families would be beaten if they refused to comply, or tried to run away. They were also subjected to rape by Petre, Matei and Ionut, who were already at the house when the women arrived.
In February 2016, Marius Petre and Adrian Matei were found guilty of intentionally arranging or facilitating entry to the UK of a person with a view to their sexual exploitation, causing or inciting prostitution for financial gain and of four counts of rape. They were both sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.
Ionut Ion was found guilty of keeping or managing a brothel used for prostitution and of two counts of rape. He was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment.
The Dark Figure* is an ongoing photographic project that investigates and documents UK neighbourhoods where victims have been identified as modern-day slaves.
Photo: Longworth Street, Preston, courtesy of The Dark Figure