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Silverado

Fun Girls, Oxford - Convicted Trafficker On The Run

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"Detectives are trying to find an Oxford man who is on the run after being convicted of sex trafficking offences.

Anastassios Papas was found guilty alongside another man, aged 49, who cannot be named for legal reasons, at Oxford Crown Court on Monday.

The case was brought after concerns were raised about their Oxford escort agency Fun Girls.

Papas, 42, who was convicted in his absence, was also found guilty of controlling prostitution for gain.

Det Insp Simon Morton, of Thames Valley Police, said: "Papas is currently on the run, and we are doing our utmost to capture him.

"Human trafficking is the modern version of slavery, and I am pleased that in convicting these two men we have uncovered and dismantled this network.

Escort agency monitoring

"This is a wake-up call to all agencies in the county that this exploitation can be happening under our noses and reminds us all that we need to be vigilant to this type of crime.

"As a community, it's imperative that we protect young women and try to stop this vicious circle of abuse."

Papas, of Iffley Road, was convicted of five counts of trafficking women within the UK for sexual exploitation, conspiracy to traffic women within the UK for sexual exploitation and converting £67,075 of criminal property.

The other man was convicted of two counts of trafficking women into the UK for sexual exploitation and trafficking women within the UK for sexual exploitation.

He has been remanded in custody for sentencing at Oxford Crown Court on 21 January.

Thames Valley Police said, as a result of the case, a community partnership had been developed to raise awareness of trafficking and train organisations in how to help victims.

The teams will also monitor all escort agencies in Oxfordshire to ensure people working for them are adults working of their own free will"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-11879098

This is another example of the police being tipped off by a concerned customer:

"SOME people may find this questionable, but praise must be given to the 53-year-old ‘punter’ who blew the whistle on the disgusting prostitution operation of Anastassios Papas and a Bicester man.

This man, who admits he uses prostitutes, said he rang police after he was sent a young girl for sex.

Many will find this man’s choices and actions morally questionable.

It is true that the sex trade in general – but people trafficking and exploitation specifically – only survive because of the demand.

Yet this punter decided to take a stand when he was offered a girl who was clearly a minor and tell police what he knew.

The pressure on him must have been immense because by going to the police he was admitting he pays for sex. He also had to give evidence in open court, although an order was made preventing his name being made public.

Still, many men in this position would have (and almost certainly will have) shied away from contacting the police, thinking it not their problem.

At least this man decided he had to say something, potentially at great personal cost, to stop this degrading cycle of abuse and exploitation, and we should be thankful for that."

http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/8709149.COMMENT__Praise_for_speaking_out/

Last night the 53-year-old customer, whose tip-off sparked the police inquiry said: “I found their details online and, after seeing pictures of women on the website, called them up.

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw the girl they sent around. She must have been 13 years old at most.

“There’s no way at all you could have mistaken her for an adult. It made me feel sick.

“I thought about what I should do and I realised I had no other option but to call the police.”

The customer, who lives in Oxford and cannot be named for legal reasons, added: “What they did is disgusting.

“I know I use prostitutes and that’s something that most men and women will find uncomfortable.

“But the trafficking of women, and especially children, is morally deplorable.”

http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/8709279.Pimp_can_expect_a__substantial__prison_term/

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Good on for the bloke that exposed the bloke for using underage & traficked girls. Hope the authorities catch up with him quickly.

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Well done that man. You had a hard choice to make, but knew what should be done, and followed it through to the end.

I only hope the girls(s) in question are now being looked after, and not simply sent back to their home town and end up back again, or worse.

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Any idea when the client reported the crime? I see no reference to when the trafficker was arrested.

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This case looks vile - if 53 yr old Mr Punter thought that the girl who came to him was only 13 (and we don't know how she was described, and she doesn't seem to have been identified / found / produced in court) then probably she was under 18.

What, however, the journalists' reports show is how loose the English definition of trafficking is. "Arranged for two girls to come from Romania".... so, even if (and that is a medium sized "if") both girls knew exactly what they were coming over to the UK for, and were "up for it", so long as he booked their flights, and sent the tickets to them, and that he expected to take his share of their fees, he is a trafficker.

To avoid conviction, he'd need to merely mention to them that his agency could handle them if they arrived, and knocked on the door. If he even mentioned that easyJet (or whichever) flight 9K17 from Constanza to Southampton is cheap and convenient, then probably he's for the drop?

And (even though a chum has recently been good enough to let me have his copy of last year's Archbold, only slightly soiled) what is "conversion of criminal property" ? I learned "Conversion", "Detinue", "Replevin" and sundry, all those years ago, but they were civil. If the WG gives her ponce his (agreed) share of her fee, has he, itso fatso, "converted criminal property", or is that simply (as a side line to the escort agency) fencing stolen goods, and turning the proceeds into something convenient, like silver?

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Very nice to see the punter getting at least some credit here for blowing the whistle.

It also occurs to me that had Harman+Smith's brave new legislation been in place when he made that call, he would presumably have been laying himself open to prosecution too, wouldn't he? After all, surely the underage girl is far more likely to have been under duress, and the fact that he didn't go through with the booking once he saw her wouldn't have got him off the hook as the offence includes offering to pay. Plus of course, strict liability, so the fact that he didn't know when he made the booking wouldn't have helped either.

All of which makes this clearly a case where the new legislation would have served as a strong incentive for the punter NOT to do the right thing...

Or maybe the new law would be overridden by the existing laws covering underage girls?

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It also occurs to me that had Harman+Smith's brave new legislation been in place when he made that call, he would presumably have been laying himself open to prosecution too, wouldn't he? After all, surely the underage girl is far more likely to have been under duress, and the fact that he didn't go through with the booking once he saw her wouldn't have got him off the hook as the offence includes offering to pay. Plus of course, strict liability, so the fact that he didn't know when he made the booking wouldn't have helped either.

All of which makes this clearly a case where the new legislation would have served as a strong incentive for the punter NOT to do the right thing...

Or maybe the new law would be overridden by the existing laws covering underage girls?

Potentially he would be, but I doubt that it would get very far. There may or may not be "exploitative conduct". I suspect though that this may be fairly easy to prove. I think that it would fall down on the requirement in section 53A(1)(a) that the punter "makes or promises payment for the sexual services of a prostitute". I don't think that calling the agency, opening the door and then sending her away because she appeared to be under-age constitutes "promising payment". I think that you could easily argue the point successfully.

More importantly, so far as I am aware nobody has yet been charged (let alone convicted) with the new offence. I genuinely believe that the police and CPS wouldn't want to prosecute. Nothing would be gained and it would be far better to concentrate on the Crown Court trial of the traffickers. More to the point it would be very bad publicity for the new offence if the first conviction was of a punter who sent the girl away and then bravely called the police. Far better to have the punter as a prosecution witness in the Crown Court than as a potential hostile witness. In addition I can't see that the CPS would want to be running a case in the Magistrates court against the punter prior to the main Crown court trial against the traffickers.

The maximum penalty for the section 53A offence is only a fine of £1,000. It just wouldn't be worth the bother.

There was another recent example of a punter rescuing a trafficked/exploited Thai girl and taking her to the police. Here's a link to Stephen Paterson's blog:

http://stephenpaterson.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/punter-rescues-29-year-old-thai-trafficking-victim-from-uk-brothel/

This case was referred to in the recent 3 part programme " The Hunt for Britain's Sex Traffickers" although no mention was made in the programmes that the main witness was rescued by a punter. Strange that !!

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Good points, Silverado. Actually, I seem to recall someone on this board stating that phoning the agency and making the booking really was enough to constitute "promising payment", but maybe my memory's playing tricks on me...

As far as the "Hunt for Britain's Sex Traffickers" programme failing to mention a punter rescuing a trafficked and exploited girl - well, they wouldn't, would they?

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