Couple jailed for forcing children into 'life of crime'
Published 31/07/2010 | 05:00
A COUPLE who forced six children into a "life of crime" by begging for money started jail terms last night.
Speranta Mihai (33), from Romania, took the children, aged between two and 16 years old, to locations around London where they would demand money from passers-by.
They also approached drivers in their cars and knocked on the doors of people's homes to make their demands. They were kept out of school, instead working for more than 12 hours a day with few breaks, police said.
Mihai and her husband Gheorghe (36) were sentenced at Reading Crown Court for child neglect and for failing to educate the children. They will both serve a minimum of 15 months.
They were caught after a police investigation found that a child trafficked into western Europe from south-eastern Romania was living with the pair. The couple are thought to have been in league with a criminal gang in Romania who trafficked children across Europe, funding "lavish lifestyles for the gangsters".