Escort agency pair who took girl for her first booking on 16th birthday jailed for child prostitution

Escort agency pair who took girl for her first booking on 16th birthday jailed for child prostitution
Stephen Castle (left) and Steven Davis.

Two men who ran an escort agency in England which employed young girls from troubled backgrounds as child prostitutes have been jailed.

Stephen Castle, 41, was the owner of the Essex escort agency Girls4you, and 55-year-old Steven Davis worked as a driver for the agency and ran it while Castle was away, Basildon Crown Court heard.

Two of the girls who worked at the agency were 16 years old, and thus were legally children as they were below the age of 18, Rebekah Hummerstone, prosecuting, said.

Both men were jailed after a jury found them guilty of offences relating to child prostitution, Essex Police said.

In a police interview, one of the girls said Davis picked her up in a white van on her 16th birthday and took her for her first booking. She said she subsequently went to more than 100 bookings.

She described Davis as looking like Frankenstein's monster, with a "big stocky build, scary build".

Davis was known as Big Steve and Castle was known as Little Steve, due to their height, Ms Hummerstone said.

The court heard Girls4you was run from Castle's one-bedroom flat in Shoebury, Essex.

Castle, now of Friday Street, Eastbourne, admitted controlling prostitution for gain, possession of 198 indecent images of children, distribution of 13 indecent images of a child and being concerned in the supply of mephedrone.

He denied two counts of controlling a child prostitute, but was found guilty. Castle, who is a computer programmer, was jailed for four years.

Former car salesman Davis, formerly of Southend and now of Vauxhall Bridge Road, Westminster, was found guilty of two counts of arranging or facilitating child prostitution, one count of controlling prostitution for gain and being concerned in the supply of mephedrone.

Davis was jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Both men were also placed on the sex offenders register.

A police investigation into the agency, which had operated for 14 years, began in 2014.

The agency's website had offered sexual services in exchange for money, allowed members of the public to scroll through listings for girls and make bookings.

The website stated the agency aimed to get an escort "to your door within the hour", and said it covered much of Essex and the surrounding area including "most of the main airports" such as Southend, Stansted and Luton.

A screengrab taken from the Girls4you website.
A screengrab taken from the Girls4you website.

Ms Hummerstone said the agency's website said it recruited women aged 18 to 35, but police captured a screenshot of the website in 2014 in which there were references to "young teen", "sexy slim teen" and "teen escort".

She said one of the 16-year-old girls, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was in foster care, while the other was sofa-surfing at friends' houses.

"Both came from troubled backgrounds, have spent periods of time in care and had social services involvement in their lives, and did not have family to support them," said Ms Hummerstone.

One of the girls described how escorts would use the drug mephedrone, known as M-Cat, and drink alcohol at Castle's flat, Ms Hummerstone said.

Speaking after the trial, Detective Superintendent Mark Hall, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said neither Castle nor Davis showed any remorse.

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