Rapist jailed after forcing woman into prostitution in Coventry and threatening to kill her children - The Coventry Observer

19th Aug, 2022

Rapist jailed after forcing woman into prostitution in Coventry and threatening to kill her children

A VULNERABLE mother was treated as a ‘commodity’ by a man who brought her to the Coventry area, raped her and forced her to work as a prostitute, while her children were being held hostage.

And after hearing that Robert Petrie had already served a prison sentence for a similar offence in Romania, a judge at Warwick Crown Court classed him as a dangerous offender.

He had denied arranging or facilitating travel for sexual exploitation, controlling prostitution for gain, assault and two charges of rape – but was found guilty of all five charges.

Following an adjournment for a report to be prepared on him, Petrie (33) officially of no fixed address, was given a 17-year prison sentence with a three-year extended period on licence.

As a result, he will have to serve at least two-thirds of the 17-year term, and will only be released before serving the whole sentence if the Parole Board considers it safe to do so.

Petrie will then be on licence for the rest of the time and for a further three years, and will have to register as a sex offender for life.

During the trial the jury heard that Petrie had been jailed for five years in Romania in 2011 after he and his father had been convicted of trafficking someone for prostitution.

Following his release, he befriended a destitute young woman in Romania and tried to get her to work as a prostitute, beating her and assaulting one of her children when she refused.

He threatened her that if she did not come to England with him and work as a prostitute for him, he would kill her children, throwing them out into the snow to reinforce his threat.

Forcing her to leave her children with his sister, who effectively held them hostage, he brought her to this country in 2017 and they went to stay with his cousin in the Coventry area.

“He said if she did not work for him, he would get someone in Romania to kill her children, and he regularly raped her. Her free will was overborne by the defendant.

“Every few days he would take her to a park where she was expected to have sex with men. She would go into the bushes to have sex,” said prosecutor Nicola Moore, who told the jury the £25 charged for oral sex and £30 for intercourse would go to Petrie.

On one occasion he took her to a pole dancing club and told her she had to work there and have sex with men at the back of the club or in the toilets, and beat her up when she refused.

“He beat her up regularly, and he would also threaten her daily, saying he would get someone to kill her children. She believed the threats, and continued to work for him.”

Petrie took her to Birmingham where four men came to have sex with her, but one complained because she was not the person they had seen in a photograph provided by him.

But eventually, on a day Petrie and his cousin were out doing some work, leaving her there with his cousin’s wife, she used the excuse of taking some washing out to escape.

She walked for a couple of hours before sleeping rough, and the next morning arrived in Coventry city centre where she was directed to a police station and disclosed her ordeal.

Jailing Petrie, Recorder Christopher Donnellan QC told him: “It is a relevant feature that many of the elements found by the court in Romania were repeated in this case.

“The victim of your offending was a young woman who at the time you met her appears to have been in difficult financial circumstances and almost destitute.

“I am satisfied you regarded her as a piece of property, such that you could do what you wanted with her and to her.

“She was brought to a country where she did not speak the language and she knew nobody. You effectively kept her children, through your sister, as hostages.

“Your victim was aware she was taken from an airport to some city. She didn’t know the name of the city; we now know it was Coventry.

“I am sure that, on the evidence, there was only one purpose in your mind. It was your intention to put her to work as a prostitute in the United Kingdom.

“That is what you set about doing. From the room in Coventry she was taken to a park where she was made to service clients with sexual activity.

“It seems you put some sort of advertisement or pictures to attract clients, because she was taken by car to another city, which was almost certainly Birmingham, and there she was to provide sexual services to a group of men in a house.

“You also took advantage of her for your own sexual gratification although she made it clear to you she did not want to have intercourse with you.

“On an occasion when you were out, on the pretext of taking something outside, she was brave enough to walk. She walked towards the city she knew was there, and she seems to have walked all night before in the morning she spotted a police car.

“The trafficking of this victim was to treat her as a commodity, degrading her of any humanity in your mind. There can be no doubt she will be suffering for many years, if not for ever, from the psychological harm that you have caused.

“I am satisfied you pose a considerable danger. At the end of any sentence, you should be deported, in my judgement.”

The judge also imposed a sexual harm prevention order and a slavery and trafficking prevention order, with far-reaching prohibitions on him organising transport or accommodation for any other person anywhere in the world, sponsoring a visa application – or even living with any person without notifying Warwickshire’s Chief Constable.

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