Man jailed for exploiting West Sussex woman as prostitute

A man who exploited a vulnerable West Sussex woman for the purposes of prostitution was jailed.

Forty-nine-year-old Peter Drury from Wellfield Avenue, Neath, Southwales pleaded guilty to the charge of controlling prostitution for gain between 2013 and 2019 at Crawley Magistrates' Court in November last year.

On Thursday (January 23), Drury was handed a 16-month sentence at Lewes Crown Court.

The prosecution, authorised by the CPS, followed enquiries by detectives from the West Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit, which began when a woman aged 26 and living in West Sussex, contacted officers in April 2019.

Forty-nine-year-old Peter Drury from Wellfield Avenue, Neath, Southwales

He set himself up as an online escort service, Zara's Escorts, and took the woman to men who had contacted him for his 'services', and took 50% of all she earned.

For a period of six months Drury, who also lived in Gravesend, Kent, and who had first contacted the already isolated and vulnerable woman out of the blue via a dating website, had been using her and others to provide sexual services for money to men across the South East and South Wales.

The court also heard that detectives found evidence that over six years several other woman had worked for Drury as prostitutes, but only one of those was identified and she did not wish to give evidence.

Over time the stress of this arrangement cause her increasing distress and eventually she came to the police for help.

The court heard that Drury had also used other women for purposes of prostitution, but only one of those had been identified and she was not willing to give evidence.

Detective Constable Andy Roe who investigated the case said; "Drury systematically preyed on and exploited this very vulnerable woman for his own financial purposes. It is also clear that he gained sexual pleasure from the arrangement as well, though there was insufficient evidence to show that any criminal offence was committed in relation to that.

"As soon as she came to us we immediately began enquiries and traced Drury and we are glad that this exploitative man has now been brought to justice.

"His conviction and sentencing sends the message that we will always pursue reports of anyone having been exploited for sexual or any other sinister purpose. If you or anyone you know is being exploited or assaulted, we can be contacted at any time online or by calling 101, and arrangements can be made for you to talk to experienced investigators.

"Our investigation of his activities has not yet finished, however. Our financial experts are carrying out an in-depth examination of his finances with a view to making a court application at a later date under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) for confiscation of any assets we can show have been the result of his criminal activity.

For information on the advice and support available for victims of sexual offences see the Sussex Police website.