Published: 00:01, 24 April 2017
Calls for the country’s top QC to review the “lenient” sentence for a man who ran a Canterbury brothel are being led by a charity which helps victims of human trafficking.
The Medaille Trust is demanding the Attorney General intervene after Chinese national Teng Gao narrowly avoided prison earlier this month.
At Canterbury Crown Court the 38-year-old admitted running a brothel out of a terraced house for at least seven months.
Police raided the building when one of the sex workers complained of being drugged and “savagely exploited”, begging one of her clients to alert the authorities.
But a judge stopped short of sending Gao directly to jail, instead suspending a year-long prison sentence for 18 months.
Sharon Benning-Prince, a trustee of The Medaille Trust, says Gao should be behind bars.
She wrote to Attorney General Jeremy Wright asking him to refer the case to the Court of Appeal “on the basis that the sentencing in relation to the case was unduly lenient”.
"This provides a negative message that organised prostitution and exploitation is acceptable" - Sharon Benning-Prince, The Medaille Trust
She added: “This does not send a positive message to vulnerable women and especially those where language is restricted and there may be potential migrant status issues.
“This provides a negative message that organised prostitution and exploitation is acceptable.”
Dad-of-two Gao, who has since moved to Middlesbrough, claimed he did not know sex was being sold at the house in North Lane, which neighbours thought was being used for student accommodation.
But Judge Rupert Lowe told him: “I do not accept for a moment that you did not know what sort of establishment you were running.
“It does you no credit to lie to a probation officer about that.”
City MP Sir Julian Brazier has backed the charity’s call.
“If men like this, who prey on the most vulnerable in society, are not to be incarcerated, then the state seems to me to be abandoning their victims,” he wrote to the Attorney General.
“A further advantage of a custodial sentence is that it should result in the deportation of Mr Gao. I would be very grateful if you could use your power to refer this sentence for review.”