WISBECH: Woman raped in people trafficking racket, court told.

By ELAINE KING, our reporter at Cambridge Crown Court A WISBECH man accused of controlling a prostitute in the town like a pawn went on trial today (Tuesday). It is alleged that Latvian Peteris Kalva moved the woman around in his car, took over her bank

By ELAINE KING, our reporter at Cambridge Crown Court

A WISBECH man accused of controlling a prostitute in the town "like a pawn" went on trial today (Tuesday).

It is alleged that Latvian Peteris Kalva moved the woman around in his car, took over her bank account, arranged clients for her, and offered her to a man as a birthday present.

A jury heard that on one occasion the 26-year-old woman was drugged, beaten, and raped after Kalva took her to an address in Wisbech.

Kalva, 38, of Cherry Road, Wisbech, has denied three charges, alleged to have been committed between July 24 and August 26 last year.

* Trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation

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Prosecuting at Cambridge Crown Court, prosecutor Angela Rafferty told jury of ten men and two women that the woman came to the UK last summer, and Kalva paid for her flight.

The woman was "no goody two shoes," said Ms Rafferty, and had been sold for sex in the past.

"Kalva knew her background, and you will hear from her what her life was and is like," she said.

"The prosecution does not put this woman forward as a paragon of virtue, she came into this country with a difficult past."

When the woman arrived in the UK she started work in a cherry factory.

"Almost immediately she was told by Kalva that her wages would be taken from her and used to pay off her debts," she said. "She was never told what that debt amounted to."

Kalva took the woman to a bank to open an account, and he took charge of her bankcards and paperwork.

"She was financially dependent on Peteris Kalva and his associates," said Ms Rafferty.

She explained to the jury: "You will hear that things began to get worse for her. Peteris Kalva and his associates took her to a house in Wisbech, she was given drink, and that drink was probably drugged, and she was rendered unconscious.

"She was beaten and raped. This was a softening up exercise, to make her afraid and more vulnerable. She woke up covered in bruises.

"Her passport was taken and she was moved to another house in Wisbech. It is a feature that Kalva was able to move her around Wisbech, as if she was his property. He even told men living at the new address not to touch her, to preserve her for clients he wanted to choose for her.

"It was a this point she was invited to become a prostitute. She was afraid, her passport had been taken away, and she had no income and was vulnerable.

"She was told they wanted to sell her for £50 a time, and she was to receive £20. He encouraged her to become a prostitute, and it was his intention to control the money. She was given suitable clothes, and telephoned to be told where and when.

"At one point she was taken to a house in Wisbech, she had sex with people there, and received no money for it. Shortly after this, Kalva brought a man to her and she refused to have sex.

It was the next day that the woman was told she was to be a man's birthday present, and to "smarten herself up" for a party.

Ms Rafferty told the jury: "You must use your common sense to assess the feelings of such a woman, brought there under the control of Peteris Kalva, and what it was necessary to do to avoid beating and assault."

A man at the party took her upstairs, they had a conversation and not sex, and he suggested she had other options than working at a prostitute.

"She later heard that Kalva said that other men should make use of her. This was a step too far and she left," said Ms Rafferty.

"This woman was softened up, trafficked around Wisbech, raped and beaten," she said. "She would not find it easy to go to the authorities. She was a pawn for Peteris Kalva."

When arrested last August, Kalva agreed that he had helped the woman to come to the UK. He said it was a joke when he offered her to a man as a gift, and agreed he had transported her around Wisbech and was in possession of her bank documents.

"He accepted he had an element of control over this lady," said Ms Rafferty. He denied coercing her into prostitution.

Kalva, a married man with a pregnant wife, told police he was a kind man, and had wanted to help.

He denied knowing anything about an allegation of rape, but said he had been to a party where he became unconscious due to strong drink.

"It is the prosecution's case that he transported her around Wisbech, added Ms Rafferty. "He facilitated her move into prostitution in this country, and arranged for people to come to her as clients.

"He offered her as a gift and generally treated her as a commodity," she added.

The trial continues.