Man at centre of ‘evil’ Norfolk human trafficking ring jailed for 11 years

A man at the centre of a human trafficking ring in Norfolk has been jailed for 11 years for his part in a 'commercial enterprise of the most evil nature'.

Nerijus Lekecinskas, 34, helped to traffic a young Lithuanian woman to the UK in May last year before forcing her into a life of prostitution.

Earlier this month a jury at Norwich Crown Court found Lekecinskas, of Meadowland Drive, Bradwell, guilty by a unanimous verdict of controlling a person in prostitution for gain, trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation and one count of rape. He was found not guilty of another count of rape.

Yesterday Lekecinskas was sentenced to two years imprisonment for the first offence, five years concurrent for the trafficking offence and six years consecutive for rape.

Sentencing Lekecinskas, who was also put on the sex offenders register for life, Judge Alasdair Darroch said: 'It's perfectly clear that you were involved in encouraging her to come to this country and it was your role to look after her.

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'When she arrived you immediately raped her to enable her to realise that you were in control of her – trying to frighten her into submission. After that she was treated as a sex slave and taken to a number of people for sexual activity against her will. This was for your own financial benefit although the extent of that is, of course, not known. It was a commercial enterprise of the most evil nature.'

Also sentenced yesterday was Skirmantas Kvedaras, 47, formerly of Issacs Road, Great Yarmouth, who was earlier found guilty of one count of rape and not guilty of another.

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Sentencing him to six years imprisonment, and putting him on the sex offenders register for life, Judge Darroch said Kvedaras had taken 'advantage of a vulnerable woman, I've no doubt in the hope that she would not report it.'

Earlier the court heard from Andrew McGee, for Lekecinskas, who said his client still maintained his innocence. Mr McGee said that although 'clearly threats were made' and verbal coercions and insinuations may have been made it was not a case where there was 'sustained brutality'.

Katharine Moore, for Kvedaras, said he had lived in Lithuania with his wife but was deeply affected by her sudden death in 2008 and had sought solace in drink, becoming increasingly isolated before coming to the UK.

She added he had 'never before committed an offence of this nature'.

The sentences follow a long-running investigation into human trafficking, codenamed Operation Feed, which culminated in raids on eight homes across Yarmouth last October filmed as part of Ross Kemp's Extreme World series.

Senior investigating officer Det Chief Insp Rickie Botwright said: 'I'm very pleased with the sentences issued today which go some way in reassuring the victim as well as sending out a clear message to those involved in people trafficking.'

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