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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 November 2005, 16:54 GMT
Pair jailed over people smuggling
Gavril Dulghieru
Gavril Dulghieru was jailed for nine years
A couple who helped smuggle hundreds of young eastern European women into Britain, in one of the largest cases of its kind, have been jailed.

Women as young as 17 paid 20,000 for their trip, then faced demands for 300-a-day rent, a court heard.

Many felt they had no choice but to work 20-hour shifts as prostitutes.

Gavril Dulghieru, 36, of Tooting Bec, south London, was jailed for nine years and his wife Tamara, 31, for five, on various immigration and fraud charges.

The women's flights and false identities were paid for with cloned credit cards, London's Isleworth Crown Court was told.

Illegal trafficking of people into this or other countries is evil and inhumane
Judge John Rylands

Police found several stashes of fake and stolen passports, other identity documents, card cloning equipment as well as evidence of "myriad" aliases and more than 146,000 in cash.

But prosecutor John Hardy said it was "an operation on a massive scale" while police think its profits may have run into millions.

Dulghieru admitted conspiracy to traffic in prostitution, trafficking into the UK for sexual exploitation and plotting to facilitate unlawful immigration between February 2003 and April 2004.

Tamara Dulghieru
Tamara Dulghieru cried in court

Judge John Rylands said he was clearly a major player in a "sophisticated and massive operation" - the full scale of which may never be known.

He said: "Illegal trafficking of people into this or other countries is evil and inhumane.

"It is particularly evil when the purpose is prostitution, because of the inevitability that many of these people will become subject to the malevolent control of the malicious and greedy."

Dulghieru's wife was cleared of trafficking in prostitution, but convicted of immigration, fraud, forgery and money-laundering offences.

They... found themselves forced into a lifestyle whose horror is difficult to describe
Det Sgt Alan Fitzgerald

The judge told the couple, both Moldovan nationals, that they would be recommended for deportation on their release from prison.

A third man Oleg Matyushin, from St John's Hill, north London, was jailed for two years, nine months on an immigration charge and plotting to defraud, commit forgery and commit money laundering.

Outside court Det Sgt Alan Fitzgerald said police were still investigating the case and he hoped the sentences would be a deterrent to others still involved.

He said some of the women experienced "total degradation" and the case had left several officers very upset.

"They had come here hoping for jobs as dancers or working in bars, only to find themselves forced into a lifestyle whose horror is difficult to describe," he said.

Passport to prostitution
01 Nov 05 |  London

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