Couple ran international sex trafficking ring from their Norfolk home

Fabiani De Souza.

Fabiani De Souza. - Credit: North Yorkshire Police

A Portuguese dominatrix and her English husband have been jailed after being found guilty of running an international sex-trafficking and prostitution racket from their Norfolk home.

Fabiana De Souza, 42, and Gareth Derby, 53, flew in sex workers from Europe and South America, treating the women as "commodities" as they made  huge sums from them, a court heard.

De Souza, who provided 'dominatrix and discipline' services to clients, was said to be the ringleader of the “large-scale commercial operation” in which she and Derby, an engineer, brought women into the UK from Brazil, Portugal and Spain.

The women were then transported to a flat on Nelson Street in King's Lynn and another in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, where they worked as prostitutes.

When the Lynn flat became unavailable, the couple even converted the garage of their then home in Walpole St Andrew, west Norfolk, for a trafficked woman to work in.

Gareth Derby.

Gareth Derby. - Credit: North Yorkshire Police

Prosecutor Jessica Strange said the couple had exploited the “vulnerable” women for “significant” financial gain by “controlling (their) finances (and) choice of clients”.

De Souza and Derby, who ran the business from their Walpole St Andrew home, were arrested in August 2018 and charged with controlling prostitution for financial gain and human trafficking.

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The couple, whose most recent address was in Upwell, near Downham Market, each denied the charges but a jury found them guilty on both counts following a 10-day trial at Leeds Crown Court in December. They were sentenced this week.

The charges related to six named women who worked at the Harrogate flat and the two properties in Norfolk between April 2017 and August 2018.

The converted garage the couple used at their home in Norfolk for their illegal prostitution business

The converted garage the couple used at their home in Norfolk for their illegal prostitution business. - Credit: North Yorkshire Police

Prosecutor Nicholas Lumley QC told the court De Souza rented a two-bed flat in Yorkshire through a letting agency “so it could be used for sex".

He said: “There was another (rented) flat in Norfolk put to similar use and when that became unavailable, even the home of these defendants was converted for use by sex workers.

"The labour force came from overseas, from countries such as Brazil, and they got here by air and their travel in and out of the country was invariably organised and paid for by these two defendants."

De Souza and Derby had rented the Lynn flat in April 2017 and advertised for a Brazilian woman called 'Kelly' who was working there.

The converted garage the couple used at their home in Norfolk for their illegal prostitution business

The converted garage the couple used at their home in Norfolk for their illegal prostitution business. - Credit: North Yorkshire Police

The couple would pay for sex adverts within hours of picking the women up from the airport and “setting them up” at the properties. The adverts were placed on classified escort websites.

They also took the bookings and “made the arrangements (with the clients)” who would pay various amounts - from £80 for half an hour to over £1,000 for an overnight stay.

Between May 2017 and August 2018, some £38,000 cash was deposited into De Souza’s bank accounts at branches in Norfolk and Yorkshire. About £9,000 of bank transfers were then made to accounts in Brazil and Portugal using a money-services bureau.

The couple “often met the flights at the airport or arranged for a train ticket to be available at the airport as they moved these women around the country or put them on a bus and sent them up to Harrogate or somewhere else”.

Following her arrest, De Souza told police she had rented the Harrogate flat for more than £700 a month and let rooms out to “others”, some of whom were “friends from Portugal”.

Derby said only that he had an “inkling that Fabia worked at the Harrogate flat as a dominatrix”.

De Souza and Derby clearing out Harrogate flat

De Souza and Derby clearing out Harrogate flat. - Credit: North Yorkshire Police

The women arrived in the UK at various airports including Manchester, Gatwick and Stansted. The court heard about the case of one women who was flown in on an EasyJet flight from Amsterdam and was picked up by the couple who had driven from Norfolk in a 4x4 pick-up. Her profile soon appeared on an escort website.

“They are flown in, spend two or three weeks in the country and then flown out again,” said Mr Lumley.

In a text sent to a friend in January 2018, Derby boasted of being a “smuggler of women”.

Police found the couple had spent “thousands on airfares” and more than £2,000 on adverts for one escort site alone.

De Souza and Derby, of Town Street in Upwell, appeared for sentence on Monday.

Michael Fullerton, for De Souza, claimed that his client, had a very deprived background and had worked in the sex trade from a very young age. She had worked in Brazil and then Portugal, at some point as a stripper, before arriving in the UK.

Richard Mohabir, for Derby, said his client had been earning about £50,000 a year as a highly skilled worker for an engineering firm.

Judge Guy Kearl QC, the Recorder of Leeds, told the couple: “What is clear is that you flew in females from a variety of European locations.

"This was a properly organised, contrived, criminal business. This was a joint enterprise between the both of you (and) you are each equally culpable.”

He said De Souza was “the one with the contacts in the sex trade” and that she had “the knowhow and made the arrangements”.

"You treated these women like commodities to increase your finances", he added.

De Souza and Derby were each jailed for five years. They will serve half of those sentences behind bars before being released on prison licence.

The judge also made a Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Order to prevent De Souza and Derby exploiting other women when they are released from prison. The order will run for 10 years.

He also set a timetable for financial-confiscation proceedings against both defendants which are due to be heard in October.


THE WALPOLE WEB

De Souza and Derby's then home on Springfield Road, Walpole St Andrew, was the centre of their operation, initially just as their base but then as the locations for one of the brothels.

As detectives closed in on the couple, they tracked their movements between Norfolk and Yorkshire.

As part of the investigation, an undercover officer posed as a client to make an appointment for the Harrogate brothel.

The policeman searched the escort sites and called a phone number provided on the women’s sex profiles. The call went through to De Souza’s mobile phone in Norfolk.

In August 2018, officers from North Yorkshire and Norfolk police went to the Walpole St Andrew address.

There, they found one woman they had previously encountered at the Harrogate flat.

They then had to force their way in to garage, which had been converted into a small flat where they found another woman involved in prostitution.

De Souza was arrested. Derby was working out of the country at the time but was arrested on his return.

Bundles of cash were also found at the address, along with notebooks setting out the trading they were involved in.

Police also seized 10 mobile phones used by De Souza to take bookings, which showed the extent of the operation.