A JUDGE has praised detectives who pursued a gang of Slovakian rapists for four years before they could be brought to justice for attacking women in Bradford.
Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday that one of the gang’s victims in 2008 was sex worker Suzanne Blamires, who in 2010 was murdered by Crossbow Cannibal Stephen Griffiths.
Judge Peter Benson yesterday sentenced Slovakians Jan Dzudza, 40, Matus Tipan, 28, and Miroslav Karicka, 45, to 12 years in prison after they were extradited from their home country last summer.
The trio, who had lived in Daisy Hill Road, Bradford, fled by bus in March 2008 after the gang’s leader Lubomir Kora was arrested.
Kora was convicted of involvement in a conspiracy to rape six prostitutes, including Ms Blamires, and was given a minimum of 16 years in September 2008.
But a lengthy police inquiry eventually led to the three defendants being tracked down and last month they also admitted involvement in the rape conspiracy in relation to the violent attacks on Ms Blamires and another sex worker.
Prosecutor Stephen Wood said Kora took photographs on his mobile phone of the three defendants raping a prostitute who cannot be identified.
She had been picked up in a silver Toyota Previa by two men, but after having consensual sex with Kora she was raped by his passenger and two other men who had been hiding in the rear of the vehicle.
Two days later Ms Blamires, then aged 34, was picked up by two men in the same vehicle and driven to a cul-de-sac in the Arthington Street area of Bradford. Three other men had been waiting at the location and they also got into the people carrier.
During an ordeal lasting about 40 minutes Ms Blamires was repeatedly assaulted and raped by the gang members before she managed to flee semi-naked and flag down a motorist.
Kora was arrested a few days later. Mr Wood said the three defendants must have found out about the arrest because they travelled to London and booked one-way bus tickets to Presou in Slovakia.
Jailing the trio, Judge Benson urged that if the men were returned to Slovakia to serve out their sentences they should not then be allowed back into the United Kingdom.
The judge said: “It is my express wish that the Home Office take whatever steps are necessary to prevent your return to this country either by means of deportation or repatriation to serve your sentence.”
Mr Wood said a team of police officers and a worker from the Crown Prosecution Service’s complex case unit in Leeds had worked tirelessly over four years to bring the defendants to justice.
Detective Superintendent Mark Ridley said: “These men lured their victims in to situations they could not escape using physical violence and intimidation to undertake what were a series of extremely serious sexual offences.
“We are committed to protecting the most vulnerable in society and detectives investigating these incidents were absolutely determined to bring those responsible to justice.
“Legislation allowing us to conduct enquiries across the world and pursue fugitives who flee abroad to avoid prosecution was used to ensure that justice was done.
“This has been a long process for their victims and I hope that today’s sentence will provide some comfort to them and their families.”