First sexual slavery conviction in Cornwall

It’s easy to think that here in Cornwall we live in a bubble away from the nastiness of knife crime in our cities, and so on. However, nothing could be further from the truth as this case from west Cornwall demonstrates.

A 34-year-old man has been sentenced for offences including Human Trafficking in Devon and Cornwall. Sean Kang Wong, of Tresaderns road, Redruth, was sentenced at Truro Crown Court on Friday 26 July to seven years for Human Trafficking and Managing Brothels.

Wong appeared in court on 17 May where he plead guilty to managing connected brothels in New Bridge Street, Truro, and Battery Street, Plymouth, during 2017 and 2018. Sean Wong was first arrested by police in September 2018 following information that he had trafficked a number of Chinese women in the UK before exploiting them to work in his brothels, under the supervision and control of other people involved in his enterprise. Following the discovery of a second brothel in Plymouth, Police Officers were able to link Wong to both establishments and he was again arrested in February 2019, where he was charged and detained to court.

Following his arrest, a number of victims were safeguarded by police and offered specialist support.

An officer seized £38k during the first arrest of Sean Wong, and a timetable will be set through the court to retrieve criminal funds through the Proceeds of Crime Act.

These human trafficking charges are some of the first standalone Human Trafficking offences, and the first victimless prosecution under the Modern Slavery Act of 2015, for Devon and Cornwall Police.

Detective Sergeant, Steve Moorcroft, from the Serious and Organised Crime Team, said:

 

“This has been a complex investigation and we are extremely pleased to have secured one of the first convictions for the Devon and Cornwall Police in relation to Human Trafficking, based on the sexual exploitation of the vulnerable. Whilst not an unusual case nationally, it highlights that such incidents of Modern Slavery can also happen locally within our force area.

“In regards to these two cases, it was the local public of Devon and Cornwall who initially brought these offences to our attention and, with further investigation by a small but dedicated team of investigators, we were able to build a strong case against Sean Wong and prove his exploitation of the Chinese community.

“We would ask that if anyone has any information which they think could assist the police in any further incidents of this kind, to please contact us.”

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Wilden of the Serious and Organised Crime Branch, said:

 

“This case demonstrates sadly there are persons in our community amongst us who are prepared to ruthlessly exploit vulnerable people for their own personal and selfish gain. Devon and Cornwall Police will respond robustly whenever we receive information surrounding any criminality where exploitation of the vulnerable is involved.”

“I want to praise the significant skill and tenacity of DS Moorcroft and his Team who have worked tirelessly on this complex and difficult investigation.”

CPS South West Senior Crown Prosecutor, Howard Phillips said “This afternoon (26 July) Sean Wong has been sentenced for managing two brothels and for trafficking women for sexual exploitation.

 

“We are committed to tackling the scourge of modern slavery. These cases are complex and difficult to prosecute as victims often lack the confidence or ability to engage with us, as was the case here. Nonetheless, by working with the Police from the earliest stages of the investigation, and by applying lessons learnt across the country, we were able to build a strong case so that Sean Wong had no option but to plead guilty at an early stage in the proceedings.

“This conviction is the first in Devon and Cornwall for sexual slavery. We will continue to work with Devon and Cornwall Police to bring human traffickers to justice.”

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