A Birmingham cabbie has been praised for his efforts in saving a petrified woman from a sex trafficking ring, run by Romanian Robert Enescu.
West Midlands Police have released bodycam images of Enescu, who is now a fugitive.
Enescu, 26, had lured his victim from his homeland under the false pretense that she would work as a masseuse.
On arrival to the UK she was kept hostage at a brothel in Enfield, London, before being taken to Coventry and forced to pose in lingerie for seedy adult contact sites.
The woman, who was three months pregnant, was put in a cab to be driven to an address which was being used as a sex den.
Cab driver Tahir Mehmood noticed distress signals from the woman and made effort to communicate with her.
Despite her limited English, the driver’s compassion and concerns gave the woman the confidence to explain what was going on.
She told him that she had come to England on the promise of a legitimate job but has been forced into having sex with multiple men.
Mehmood phoned the police, who arrived to comfort the woman.
He is now in line for a commendation from West Midlands Police after saving the married victim from being forced into the sex trade.
The following day officers raided the address and safeguarded several eastern European women suspected of being used as sex slaves.
Enescu was arrested from his home in Kingfield Road.
He denied being involved in trafficking the woman – who arrived at Luton Airport on 16 February – but was charged, found guilty and jailed for nine years in his absence, having skipped court bail on the eve of his crown court trial.
A wanted appeal has now been issued for Enescu and West Midlands Police is working with police across the UK and Europol in a bid to trace him and bring him to justice.
The investigation was conducted by officers on the Public Protection Unit based at Coventry Central police station.
Detective Inspector Wes Martin led the investigation. He said: “The woman responded to an online advert for masseuses – she thought it was a legitimate job but within hours realised she was in danger.
“She was kept locked in a room at an address in Enfield with no food or heating, just a mattress to lie on and a bucket as a toilet.
"She said she had no way to escape: the door was locked from the outside and had no handle on the inside.
"She was too afraid to jump from a window as she was pregnant; she tried to raise the alarm by shouting help but no-one replied. She had a phone but there was no signal.
“Two days later Enescu drove her to an address in Coventry and it was clear he intended to force her into prostitution.
“In Coventry she was kept captive in squalid conditions and subject to degrading treatment. She was eventually informed she would be released to a brothel where she would work as a sex worker and have to give half of her earnings to Enescu.
“When our officers intercepted the taxi – following a call from the concerned driver – all she had in her possession was a bag of around 50 condoms Enescu had given her. He’d earlier smashed her mobile phone and stolen what money she had.
“My officers worked tremendously hard to secure this conviction: they safeguarded the woman, liaised with officers in Romania, helped return her safely home and kept in touch while the case progressed.
"It was this compassionate and sensitive response which reassured the woman and gave her the confidence to come back to the UK to give evidence.
“If anyone has any information on Enescu’s whereabouts I would encourage them to get in touch.”
People can contact Det Sgt Mircetic at the Public Protection Unit in Coventry by calling 101 or via Live Chat at WMP Online. Alternatively, call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
Images: Source; West Midlands Police