There’s been a guilty plea in a human trafficking probe that shook seasoned London police detectives who rescued a 14-year-old victim at the centre of the case.
Paywand Sohrabzadeh, 19, pleaded guilty to several related charges last week. He was sentenced to four years in jail, will be placed on the sex offender registry and has a lifetime weapons ban.
The case centred around a 14-year-old from Cambridge who was trafficked in hotels in London.
It was one that Det. Const. Dana Kenney of the London police human trafficking unit vividly remembers.
“She was my first major case, and you have these girls come to you, they trust you, you want to provide them with every opportunity you can to get out of this,” Kenney said in December in an interview with CBC News about human trafficking.
Between December 2016 and March 2017, they started chatting on Instagram.
When Sohrabzadeh asked the victim, who can’t be named because of a court-ordered publication ban, if she knew about “business,” the girl thought she was talking about business class.
Sohrabzadeh clarified he meant that he had a business in which girls worked for him.
Eventually, in June 2017, Sohrabzadeh and others took the 14-year-old to a hotel room in London and took nude photos of her.
They placed ads on backpage.com, used by sex workers to communicate with sex buyers, and arranged meetings with men for the girl, including in London hotel rooms. The website has since been shut down.
“The victim was entirely dependent on the accused. She relied on the accused for food and transportation, and the accused determined the fees to be paid to the victim for each specific sexual act she performed,” according to the agreed statement of facts read out by the Crown at Sohrabzadeh’s guilty plea hearing.
“The victim was required to give all the money she earned to the accused. The accused never provided the victim with any of the money she earned.”
Arrests and preliminary inquiries
The girl was returned to where she lived. But a month later, at the beginning of July, she got a text telling her to be ready, she was going to be picked up by two men and taken to London to work for two days. Then she would be taken to Windsor for two days, then to Barrie for three days.
One of the men got angry at her and dropped her off at the Greyhound bus station in London, where she eventually came into contact with London police and reported what had been happening.
On August 31, 2017, Sohrabzadeh was arrested on outstanding warrants as well as 10 charges related to the young victim. He told police he had no idea the girl was 14.
On June 6, he pleaded guilty to three charges related to making child pornography, profiting from human trafficking and trying to sell someone for sex. The other seven charges were withdrawn.
Preliminary inquiries for Sohrabzadeh’s co-accused begin this week.