Worthing couple deny blackmailing and forcing woman into prostitution

A Worthing couple have denied blackmailing and inciting a woman into prostitution.

At Lewes Crown Court this morning (March 9), Carole Higgins, Worthing, was charged with causing or inciting someone to be a prostitute for her own financial gain and that of her co-defendant, Toby Webb.

The offence is alleged to have taken place between December 31, 2017, and March 1, 2018.

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Higgins, who is 28, was also charged with controlling another person for prostitution between January 26, 2018, and July 1, 2018.

Police (stock image). Steve Robards

Her co-defendant Toby Webb, of the same address, was subject to both of the same charges as Higgins.

In addition, Webb was also charged with blackmail and accused of working with Higgins to demand their victim, through ‘menaces’, perform sexual services for their personal gain.

Both Webb and Higgins pleaded not guilty to all charges.

With both defendants and their legal counsels, Barry Cheeseman and Harry MacDonald, appearing via video link, Judge Christine Henson warned the hearing risked descending into a ‘farce’ amid technical difficulties.

The hearing faced adjournment as Higgins struggled to make her microphone work and Judge Henson expressed concerns over the small video boxes on her screen.

After eventually getting proceedings running smoothly, the defendants were released on unconditional bail.

A trial date was set for January 4, 2021, at Lewes Crown Court.

The addresses of Higgins and Webb have not been published at the request of Sussex Police.