Hungarian sex slave gang jailed for a total of 23 years

Victoria Brown

Mate Puskas

Zoltan Mohacsi

Istvan Toth

Peter Toth

First published in News
Last updated

Five members of an organised crime gang who brought women from Hungary to work as prostitutes at brothels across Sussex, including the Falmer campus, have been jailed.

Hungarian nationals Mate Puskas, Zoltan Mohacsi, Istvan Toth and Peter Toth, and Puskas's former girlfriend Victoria Brown, from Bognor, brought at least 44 women into the country over almost two years, setting them up in hotels and flats, including at the University of Sussex campus, and uploading their profiles on to a website which advertised sexual services for sale, the court was told.

The defendants, including the Toth brothers, from Eastbourne, who are on the run and were sentenced in their absence, were found guilty yesterday of conspiring to traffic women into the UK for sexual exploitation following a seven-week trial at Hove Crown Court.

Talking to the remaining three defendants, Judge Richard Hayward told them they had committed offending behaviour which "society finds repugnant".

Puskas, from Croydon, was jailed for six years, Brown for three years, and Mohacsi, from Ilford, east London, was jailed for four years for conspiracy to traffic women into the UK.

Istvan and Peter Toth were jailed for five years and four years respectively for the same offence, but both had nine months added to their sentences after being convicted of Contempt of Court for breaking bail.

Judge Hayward said the women, some of them barely adults, were brought into the country and put up in hotels and flats in East Sussex, Kent, Gatwick, Manchester, Leeds, Cardiff and Glasgow.

Adverts were placed on an adult website offering sexual services including unsafe sex and extreme sexual acts and the charges were fixed, he continued.

One woman who was sent back to Hungary because she was under age, was forced to work in Austria and Germany as a prostitute to pay back her air fare to the UK, he said.

Customers who were using the women thought they were texting them directly, when in reality they were texting the defendants who fixed times and charges, and decided where and how long the women would work for, he told the court.

Puskas, 26, was told that even though he was younger than his co-conspirators he had "business acumen" and was undoubtedly at the heart of the operation.

The judge said: "You were at the centre of the conspiracy and very much in control.

"This conspiracy was an extension of your career which you had already chosen."

Brown, 25, was described by Judge Hayward as a "loyal lieutenant" to Puskas, who was drawn skilfully into the operation by her boyfriend over a period time.

She wept as he told her she had run an unattractive defence of duress, seeking to blame her actions on Puskas, the father of her 21-month-old son.

He said: "It is very sad to see you in the dock. You are intelligent, you come from a respectable family, you had a good job, and you threw it all away for Mate Puskas."

Nicholas Hamblin, representing Brown, told the court she had performed "secretarial activities" and "was acting to a certain extent under pressure".

Mr Hamblin added that she had made no personal gain from the trafficking and that loans of £21,000 taken out on behalf of Puskas had left her bankrupt.

The court was told that Mohacsi, 36, was one of the middle conspirators whose common-law wife and sister-in-law both worked as prostitutes in Hungary and the UK.

Hugh Mullan, mitigating on his behalf, said: "He preyed upon an economically deprived area of Hungary.

"It (prostitution) was rife in that area and he did not create the rifeness of that situation.

"His wife was an active prostitute and carried on after he was taken into custody. She is heavily pregnant and due to give birth to their first son in February."

The court also heard from barristers representing 35-year-old Istvan Toth and his brother Peter.

Aleksander Lloyd, representing 28-year-old Peter Toth, said he was not considered to be one of the leading actors in the case and that he had been referred to as the "gentleman pimp" by the prosecution because he acted with kindness and courtesy to some of the girls involved.

During the trial, jurors heard that many of the women had come to the UK to escape financial difficulties at home.

Their flights were paid for by the defendants and the debts were used as a hold over the women who were forced to work for up to 12 hours a day.

Prosecutor David Walbank told the court that the women were seeing up to 10 to 15 men a day and charging £100 an hour.

He said many of the women were victims of financial extortion only being left with 10% of their daily earnings while the defendants took the rest.

Threats and force were used as forms of coercion and one woman was told that posters would be put up in her home town telling people about what she was doing if she did not comply, Mr Walbank said.

Portia Ragnauth, Acting Chief Crown Prosecutor CPS South East, said that no one could imagine how desperate the victims were in this case.

She said: "I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the bravery of the victims who gave evidence in this case, one who gave evidence from behind a screen in the UK and two others who gave evidence via a live video-feed from Hungary.

"We know how incredibly difficult it was for them, especially as we know that the reach of this criminal group extends back to Hungary.

"It has not been easy for them, but we hope that today's verdict brings them justice and allows them to now move on with their lives.

"The CPS was assisted greatly by the police and judicial authorities in Hungary to bring this prosecution. Without this cross-border cooperation achieving justice for these women would have been considerably more difficult."

A University of Sussex spokeswoman said the case did not relate to activities by staff or students but that a flat on its campus was one of many locations across the region used for prostitution purposes.

She said the safety of the thousands of students living on campus was of paramount importance to the university.

Comments (14)

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1:21pm Wed 8 Jan 14

All 9 of me says...

reasonable-ish sentences, but I think for this kind of crime, minimum 15, considering the misery they brought to the lives of the people they trafficked
reasonable-ish sentences, but I think for this kind of crime, minimum 15, considering the misery they brought to the lives of the people they trafficked All 9 of me
  • Score: 15

1:23pm Wed 8 Jan 14

tooned_in says...

marvellous the uk justice systems fails us all again....so make obsene amounts, destroy the lives of young women who will never recover and your back on the streets in 3 yrs? what message does this send out?
Its no wonder these individuals do not fear the law.
disgusting!
marvellous the uk justice systems fails us all again....so make obsene amounts, destroy the lives of young women who will never recover and your back on the streets in 3 yrs? what message does this send out? Its no wonder these individuals do not fear the law. disgusting! tooned_in
  • Score: 28

1:37pm Wed 8 Jan 14

tykemison says...

tooned_in wrote:
marvellous the uk justice systems fails us all again....so make obsene amounts, destroy the lives of young women who will never recover and your back on the streets in 3 yrs? what message does this send out?
Its no wonder these individuals do not fear the law.
disgusting!
Absolutely this tooned in.Pathetic sentencing, no deterrent at all, wonder if sentences would have been suitable if(God forbid), it had been one of the judge's poor Daughter's.I have said before, sadly, these eastern European gang's have no morals and laugh at our lenient justice system and wallow in their illegal fortunes.Solution? Open the flood gates to more eastern European filth, I despair for my country.
[quote][p][bold]tooned_in[/bold] wrote: marvellous the uk justice systems fails us all again....so make obsene amounts, destroy the lives of young women who will never recover and your back on the streets in 3 yrs? what message does this send out? Its no wonder these individuals do not fear the law. disgusting![/p][/quote]Absolutely this tooned in.Pathetic sentencing, no deterrent at all, wonder if sentences would have been suitable if(God forbid), it had been one of the judge's poor Daughter's.I have said before, sadly, these eastern European gang's have no morals and laugh at our lenient justice system and wallow in their illegal fortunes.Solution? Open the flood gates to more eastern European filth, I despair for my country. tykemison
  • Score: 23

1:48pm Wed 8 Jan 14

sussexram40 says...

far too light,youonly serve half and after time they prob spent inside already they wil back out and doing it again in a few mths!!!!
wheres the deterent?????
far too light,youonly serve half and after time they prob spent inside already they wil back out and doing it again in a few mths!!!! wheres the deterent????? sussexram40
  • Score: 21

2:09pm Wed 8 Jan 14

downbythesea says...

What a bunch of horrible sc u m, shame the sentences weren't for much longer.

I agree with others, what is the deterrent when you serve half a sentence, and likely have lots of money stashed away in Hungary?

Saw them on tv yesterday, looked like they thought it was all a big joke to them.
What a bunch of horrible sc u m, shame the sentences weren't for much longer. I agree with others, what is the deterrent when you serve half a sentence, and likely have lots of money stashed away in Hungary? Saw them on tv yesterday, looked like they thought it was all a big joke to them. downbythesea
  • Score: 20

2:53pm Wed 8 Jan 14

Maxwell's Ghost says...

Come on Caroline Lucas these are the sorts of stories and issues you should be commenting on, not Page 3 girls who choose to get paid for taking their tops off.
Come on Caroline Lucas these are the sorts of stories and issues you should be commenting on, not Page 3 girls who choose to get paid for taking their tops off. Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: 21

2:54pm Wed 8 Jan 14

zanadu says...

So no mention of deportation after completing their sentences and I assume the "heavily" pregnant wife will have her baby in the UK and therefore establish a right to live here. Then upon release husband will claim "a right to family life" and we gain another sponger on the British taxpayer.
So no mention of deportation after completing their sentences and I assume the "heavily" pregnant wife will have her baby in the UK and therefore establish a right to live here. Then upon release husband will claim "a right to family life" and we gain another sponger on the British taxpayer. zanadu
  • Score: 22

2:57pm Wed 8 Jan 14

clarkebrighton says...

Not Long Enough, They will be out after doing 30% of the sentence if NOT
before, Who said CRIME DOES NOT PAY !!!!
Not Long Enough, They will be out after doing 30% of the sentence if NOT before, Who said CRIME DOES NOT PAY !!!! clarkebrighton
  • Score: 12

3:02pm Wed 8 Jan 14

Maxwell's Ghost says...

This story is all over the national news which is another nail in the coffin of Sussex Unis reputation....but it doesn't surprise me as neither uni has done much to ensure its students behave in the community. They don't give a toss and 5,000 more are coming.
This story is all over the national news which is another nail in the coffin of Sussex Unis reputation....but it doesn't surprise me as neither uni has done much to ensure its students behave in the community. They don't give a toss and 5,000 more are coming. Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: 6

3:47pm Wed 8 Jan 14

thelieshurts says...

What a joke these sentences are. I hope the CPS will appeal against this.
They should be getting at least 15 to 20 years for what they have done.
That woman should get the same, they're in it together.

I think this sought of thing will happen again, sorry to say.
The way they went into court I thought they were going on holiday.
What a joke these sentences are. I hope the CPS will appeal against this. They should be getting at least 15 to 20 years for what they have done. That woman should get the same, they're in it together. I think this sought of thing will happen again, sorry to say. The way they went into court I thought they were going on holiday. thelieshurts
  • Score: 11

3:53pm Wed 8 Jan 14

Brighton1000 says...

there must be a high demand for it in brighton, which is the root cause of this. These people should 100% be deported, And the brighton public should find something better to spend their money on!
there must be a high demand for it in brighton, which is the root cause of this. These people should 100% be deported, And the brighton public should find something better to spend their money on! Brighton1000
  • Score: 12

4:22pm Wed 8 Jan 14

tug509 says...

This country is seriously SICK ,parasites invade our over welcoming shores ,and immediately proceed to use and abuse our hospitality and tolerance ,with the knowledge that the only people sicker than they are ,are those who were elected to protect and prevent these disgusting crimes in the first place.

When a sentence in a holiday camp is so meagre ,where is the detterent ,44 women have had their lives destroyed ,for a total of 22 years ,thats 6 months per woman divided by 5 = approximately 37 days - time for good behaviour = 18.5 days . So each woman is abducted from their home ,repeatedly raped (5 times a day ,according to the tv report ) for money ,and the sentence ,each of the SCUM will recieve is 18 days playing dvd`s and watching tv per VICTIM . And to top it off ,the senile judge actually gave them bail ,before sentencing ,i said to my wife ,they would not turn up ,guess what ,two didn`t .

God Bless the ladies involved ,no human has the right ,to treat you like an animal .

Note to judge ,you are a BLOODY disgrace .
This country is seriously SICK ,parasites invade our over welcoming shores ,and immediately proceed to use and abuse our hospitality and tolerance ,with the knowledge that the only people sicker than they are ,are those who were elected to protect and prevent these disgusting crimes in the first place. When a sentence in a holiday camp is so meagre ,where is the detterent ,44 women have had their lives destroyed ,for a total of 22 years ,thats 6 months per woman divided by 5 = approximately 37 days - time for good behaviour = 18.5 days . So each woman is abducted from their home ,repeatedly raped (5 times a day ,according to the tv report ) for money ,and the sentence ,each of the SCUM will recieve is 18 days playing dvd`s and watching tv per VICTIM . And to top it off ,the senile judge actually gave them bail ,before sentencing ,i said to my wife ,they would not turn up ,guess what ,two didn`t . God Bless the ladies involved ,no human has the right ,to treat you like an animal . Note to judge ,you are a BLOODY disgrace . tug509
  • Score: 14

7:00pm Wed 8 Jan 14

sussexram40 says...

They keep on about how terrible sex trafficking is and they were saying about it being worth a life sentence and then you get a gang who have trafficked scores for women for sex and they get 3 and 4 years and will be out in a fraction of that?/ I dont understand.
They keep on about how terrible sex trafficking is and they were saying about it being worth a life sentence and then you get a gang who have trafficked scores for women for sex and they get 3 and 4 years and will be out in a fraction of that?/ I dont understand. sussexram40
  • Score: 8

10:36pm Wed 8 Jan 14

GoldenTorch says...

Stop you're whining, its just capitalism at its very best. The sex workers were earning good money (£500 - £1000 a week cash in hand, no tax), while the employers were raking it in. Its the HMRC who should be annoyed.
Stop you're whining, its just capitalism at its very best. The sex workers were earning good money (£500 - £1000 a week cash in hand, no tax), while the employers were raking it in. Its the HMRC who should be annoyed. GoldenTorch
  • Score: -8

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