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Proof if proof were ever needed that it is the law that is wrong and that it is the police who are the truly despicable criminals. Two people given a criminal conviction and sentenced for what crime? Organising work for willing sex workers so that they were safe. When is this vile use of the law to destroy peoples lives going to stop?
A SEX trafficker has been jailed for three years and four months for controlling prostitutes in Newcastle and elsewhere around the UK.
Stephen Craig, 34, was jailed for arranging travel, accommodation and advertising for 14 women. His co-accused, Sarah Beukan, 22, was jailed for a year and a half for her part in the human trafficking network operated by Craig.
They admitted at an earlier hearing to moving 14 people to various addresses in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and Newcastle to work as prostitutes. The women were moved around the UK to work at all of the premises.
Those living in the UK illegally would travel to Belfast by ferry and around the rest of the country by train.
Pre-paid credit cards were used to transfer money and pay for the rental of properties, so the women would not carry cash when they travelled.
They also provided accommodation for the women to work out of, put out advertisements for their services in newspapers and online, and took a cut from their wages.
Craig, from Clydebank, and Beukan, from Leith in Edinburgh, pleaded guilty under Section 22 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 at Glasgow Sheriff Court on September 9.
A number of foreign nationals were also found working in the brothels but there is no evidence to suggest Craig and Beukan were trafficking people from overseas into UK.
Passing sentence at Glasgow Sheriff Court, Sheriff Cathcart told Craig and Beukan there was no alternative to custody.
He went on: “I also accept that none of those individuals were new to prostitution.
“But the gravity of this offence means the only appropriate way of dealing with you is a period in custody.”
As well as being involved in the management of the scheme, Beukan also worked as a prostitute herself. She and Craig recruited women by advertising “luxury apartments” for them to work out of.
They also recruited through escort websites, which cost between £40 and £90 for each advert. In total, 23 witnesses were identified, including women working as prostitutes from Brazil, Bolivia, Nigeria and Scotland.
The court was told Craig had expressed remorse for what he had done and shown empathy for the women involved, admitting he had been “naive”.
In his defence, Murdo MacLeod QC said there was “never any pressure, force, threat or compulsion of any kind directed at the women involved”.
Speaking on behalf of Beukan, defence advocate Paul Brown told the court she “had the shock of her life” in custody and it was “abhorrent to her to return to that lifestyle”.
He told the court Beukan had done well at school and had no problems with drugs or alcohol, but had a broken relationship with her family.
He said: “What she does have is a totally shared experience with the complainers in this case.”
He said she lived off only her own earnings as a prostitute and had not made money through the other women’s work.
The trafficking scheme came to light following Operation Factor, a joint initiative by Strathclyde Police and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
Detective Inspector Stephen Grant, from Strathclyde Police major investigation teams, said Craig and Beukan were “despicable individuals”.