Two young men have heard they are facing jail sentences of ‘a substantial length’ after being convicted of controlling a child prostitute and ‘packing her full of cocaine.’
Thomas Entwistle and Martin Cantle were found not guilty of causing or inciting child prostitution, by being responsible for making the 17-year-old start working as a prostitute in the first place. They claimed she was already doing so.
It had been alleged during their trial at Warwick Crown Court they had recruited the girl and ran her as a prostitute in the Hillfields red light area of Coventry ‘for their own gain.’
Both men had both pleaded not guilty to two charges of causing or inciting the child prostitution of the 17-year-old.
Entwistle (26) from Warwick, but now of Dog Lane, Napton, and Cantle (24) of Oldbourne Road, Coventry, also denied controlling a child prostitute and supplying her with cocaine.
But after considering the evidence for almost seven hours as the trial entered its fourth week, the jury unanimously convicted them of those two charges.
Judge Andrew Lockhart QC told barristers acting for the two men: “I am unlikely to adjourn for reports on these gentlemen. The sentence will be one of such a substantial length that a pre-sentence report will not help.”
And he indicated: “It seems to me the offence of supplying controlled drugs to a young person is separate and grave, and is likely to attract a consecutive sentence to that of controlling a prostitute.
“One can control a prostitute without packing her so full of cocaine that she’s lying screaming in the back of a car.”
During the trial prosecutor Robert Underwood had told the jury the girl was from Leamington but had been in foster care from which she had absconded, sometimes ending up sleeping in derelict buildings and taking alcohol and drugs.
“We say it was that vulnerability that these two defendants preyed on. For a period of months in 2014 they groomed her and coerced her and controlled her.
“They were her pimps and helped themselves to the money she earned out on the streets as a sex worker. She was then 17, and in the eyes of the law still a child. She was, we say, the victim of child sexual exploitation.
“The basis on which the case is put is that on the first occasion when they suggested she could make money for them all by having sex working in Hillfields, she went along with it.
“However, those suggestions evolved into inducements such as supplying her with cocaine and threats to harm her and others for whom she cared. They knew that would result in her beginning to and continuing to sex work.
“There is no requirement to prove she was compelled to work as a prostitute. The case against these two concerns their actions in bringing about that situation, that they intentionally caused or incited her to become a prostitute.”
He alleged it reached a stage where they were not only transporting the girl to Hillfields, but demanding that she work ever-longer hours on the street, sometimes from 6pm to 6am.
“Thereafter collecting her and taking part or all of the money she had earned, often in excess of £400 a night, and plying her with cocaine to make her vulnerable to their campaign.”
Mr Underwood said the girl ‘finally built up the courage’ to go to the police, describing Cantle as the ‘puppet-master’ who had first raised the idea of her prostituting herself when they were short of money, but immediately supported by Entwistle.
Cantle claimed that when he had first met the girl she had told him she was 19, and he denied selling her drugs or taking money off her, saying he had never seen her sex-working, adding that if TJ was pimping her out, he did not know about it.
Entwistle said he knew the girl sold herself in the Hillfields area, and admitted he may have picked her up and dropped her off, but denied forcing or encouraging her to do so, and denied taking money from her.