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Five guilty of sex trafficking in Sussex University Hungarian prostitution case
Five people have been found guilty of sex trafficking Hungarian women to work in brothels across the county, some on the University of Sussex Falmer campus.
Five Hungarian men and a woman are accused of flying more than 50 young women into the UK and setting them up in hotels, student accommodation and residential housing across Sussex.
Mate Puskas, 25, Victoria Brown, 25, Zoltan Mohacsi, 36, Istvan Toth, 34 and Peter Toth, 28, all denied running of the “complex” organisation.
But today they were convicted of conspiracy to traffic.
Hove Crown Court heard the gang, which is linked to a Hungarian organised crime group, advertised the girls for sex through an adult website.
David Walbank, prosecuting, told how the five recruited young women, some as young as 18, from Hungary and arranged for them to fly to the UK.
They would then take them to hotels near the airports, including Gatwick, before sending them as far and afield as Glasgow and Margate.
He added they also arranged pornographic shoots for the women, scheduled appointments with clients and negotiated on sexual services and prices.
As the trial opened yesterday Mr Walbank said: “This is a case about individual people, specifically the young Hungarian women who are the most obvious victims.
“The overall history of what was done by these girls and to these girls is a series of individual human tragedies, the consequences of which will affect many of them for a lifetime.”
The jury was told more than 50 women had been identified as sex workers although Mr Walbank said the number was likely to be “significantly higher”.
He added that although just five defendants were on trial, the “scale” and “complexity” of the operation suggested many more were also involved.
The gang first came to the attention of police in 2011.
The court was told how the University of Sussex’s building manager, Martin West, was alerted to an email advertising escorts in Park Village on the Falmer campus.
In one of the semi-naked profiles he recognised the distinct campus curtains and bedding a prostitute was sprawled across.
The jury heard he went to investigate and found a young woman wearing a vest top and knickers. He also found a number of wet wipes and a large box of condoms.
Mr Walbank told the jury how the gang set up brothels across Sussex including one in a basement flat in Marine Parade, Eastbourne.
After a tip-off police visited the flat and found a young woman “dressed provocatively” sitting on a bed with her “cleavage showing”.
The jury heard one of the prostitutes called the address a brothel later in the investigation, confessing she had sex there with up to 15 men a day.
The group also used a string of hotels close to Gatwick to accommodate prostitutes, the jury heard.
Among them were the Ibis Holiday Inn and the Gatwick Moat House Hotel.
Staff reported a succession of foreign girls checking in before being visited by numerous men each day.
On one occasion, police officers were called to the Gatwick Moat House on December 10, 2011 when staff grew suspicious of their guest in room 401.
The jury heard officers approached the room to hear “muffled banging”. Inside they found a young female wearing just her underwear and bins “overflowing with refuse including toilet paper and used condoms”, Mr Walbank said.
A third location, a house rented in Zion Place, Margate, Kent was also regularly visited by a series of men.
The gang had a “fleet of vehicles” to run the complex operation and regularly updated website profiles, Mr Walbank said.
The jury heard all but Brown are Hungarian nationals.
Brown, who has lived in Holland Road, Hove, was in a relationship with Puskas.
Mr Walbank added: “Each of these defendants was actively involved in running an international prostitution ring which involved the trafficking of young women from Hungary.
“They arranged appointments with paying clients whom these young women were expected to service by performing every imaginable type of sexual activity and then pocketing a large slice of the cash proceeds.”
Puskas, of Surrey Street, Croydon, Brown, of Oakley Road, Bognor, Mohacsi, of Cranbrook Road, Ilford and Istvan and Peter Toth, of St John’s Road, Eastbourne, face three counts of conspiracy to control the activities of prostitutes for gain, conspiracy to traffic into the UK and conspiracy to traffic within the UK.
Istvan and Peter Toth, who were not in court, were tried in their absence.
The five will be sentenced at 2pm.
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