A MAN from Napton who preyed on a vulnerable girl who was working as a child prostitute, forcing her back on the streets night after night and keeping the money she made, has been jailed.
Thomas Entwistle, and his partner in crime Martin Cantle, from Coventry, were both jailed for 11 years after being found guilty by a jury at Warwick Crown Court of controlling a child prostitute and supplying the 17-year-old girl with cocaine.
Entwistle, 26, from Warwick, but now of Dog Lane, Napton, and Cantle, 24, of Oldbourne Road, Coventry, were also ordered to register as sex offenders for life and made subject to sexual harm prevention orders restricting their contact with girls under 16.
Judge Andrew Lockhart QC observed that during the trial there had been evidence of them planning to have other young girls working for them in Coventry’s red light area of Hillfields.
Sentencing Entwistle and Cantle, the judge said in 2014 they had befriended a very vulnerable girl who was from Leamington and who was in care.
He added Entwistle had began to groom her, before he became friends with Cantle, with whom he shared an interest in young girls and drug supply, and they had then worked as a team.
Together they preyed on the girl, who had turned to prostitution, and used her to their advantage.
The judge said the girl would sometimes go with up to 20 clients a night, earning £500, but saw none of the money.
He continued: “You two controlled her life in every sense, picking her up from her carer’s and dropping her back – if you could be bothered. You treated her in a wholly inhuman way.”
He said Entwistle also decided to have regular sex with her himself before sending her out onto the streets, treating her ‘as a slave in every context.’
“You two chose to start to give her cocaine to trap her into an addiction which made her more pliable. You swamped her with drugs and used her addiction to your advantage.
“The jury has heard how she was in the back of your car when there was no-one there, screaming out for you to allow her to stop working as a prostitute.
“You two treated her as your property. No person has a right to treat another human being in that way.
“But what you two did not count on was her bravery and that of other young girls who decided to make a complaint about your behaviour and gave evidence in this case.
You would not face what you had done, and you lied in interviews and you lied wholesale to this jury.”
After jailing the two men, the judge went on to praise the ‘dogged determination’ of Warwickshire Police, Social Services and the Youth Offending Team for their work in bringing the case to court. He also praised the girl’s foster carer.
During the trial prosecutor Robert Underwood said the girl had been in foster care from which she had absconded, sometimes ending up sleeping in derelict buildings and taking alcohol and drugs.
He added Entwistle and Cantle had “groomed her and coerced her and controlled her.”
But Mr Underwood said the girl ‘finally built up the courage’ to go to the police, describing Cantle as the ‘puppet-master’ who had first raised the idea of her prostituting herself when they were short of money, immediately supported by Entwistle.
Det Insp Nigel Jones, of Warwickshire Police, said: “I’d like to take this opportunity to recognise the immense courage of the young lady at the heart of this case and thank her for her support in the investigation.
“In 2014 she found herself in a situation where she was groomed by Cantle and Entwistle who both forced her into prostitution for their own financial gain and plied her with controlled drugs. She put her trust in them but they controlled her every move, put her into extremely dangerous situations and left her feeling she was unable to escape from it for fear of threats they had made to her and violence used against her.
“A team of multi-agency professionals set up to tackle the devastating effects of child sexual exploitation worked closely with the victim over a long period of time to build trust, encourage her to speak out and support her through the investigation. The journey has been long and traumatic for her and I hope the sentencing today goes some way to assisting her recovery from the abhorrent acts of these two men.
“I must also mention the bravery of a number of young women who gave evidence in this matter in extremely difficult circumstances.
“These convictions show we are committed to bringing sexual offenders to justice and to protect other young girls and boys from being sexually exploited.”
Police are encouraging any victims and survivors to contact them or tell someone in a position of trust.
Call 01926 414144 to speak to Warwickshire’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub or ring 101 to speak to police.