A West Midlands taxi driver is hailed as a hero after saving a distraught pregnant woman from a sex trafficker.
The victim from Romanian was lured by Evil Robert Enescu, 26, after she answered an advert offering UK work as a masseuse
She was kept hostage at a London brothel before being driven to Coventry and forced to pose in lingerie for seedy adult contact sites.
When Enescu ordered taxi driver Tahir Mehmood to take his victim to the house being used as a pop-up sex den, the driver picked up distress signals and called police.
Enescu was later arrested at his home in Kingfield Road, Coventry. He denied being involved in trafficking the woman, who had arrived at Luton Airport on February 16, but was charged, found guilty and jailed for nine years in his absence, having jumped bail.
A wanted appeal has now been issued and West Midlands Police is working with forces across the UK and Europol to bring him to justice.
Married dad-of-two Tahir, from Coventry, told how he was flagged down by Enescu – but then became suspicious after being left alone with the woman.
“The man asked me if I could take her to St Christian Road,” he said.
“The lady got in the cab. When I go a little, the lady was upset. She was crying.
“I said ‘What’s up love? Why are you crying?’ I stopped the taxi and said ‘Just tell me what’s happened’.
“She said ‘I don’t know here, I just came here four days before, come to here to do massage, but they tell me go to prostitution, to do sex, but I don’t want to do it.
“Can you help me go back to my country? The man said I got to do prostitution sex but I don’t want to do it.’
“I said ‘Ok, I’ll call the police and they can help you. Don’t worry, the police will sort, the police will help you’.
“Then I dialled 999 and the police came and I told them everything. They spoke to her and she came out the cab and they took her to the police station.
“When she came out the cab, I said ‘Are you alright? Are you happy?’ She said, ‘Yes’. The police said ‘That’s good mate, well done.’”
The dad-of-two added: “I knew what to do because when I passed my test to be a taxi driver we were told everything, to help the customer, and to ring the police if you’re suspicious about something.
“I’ve been a taxi driver since 2004 but nothing like this happened before.
“If I know somebody needs help, I will do. If somebody needs an ambulance I will call. I’m going to help, I’ll try my best to help.
“I told my wife and sons. They are happy about it.”
Detective Inspector Wes Martin, who led the investigation through West Midlands Police’s Public Protection Unit, revealed how crucial the cabbie’s involvement had been.
“When the taxi driver picked her up, Enescu said ‘This is my phone number, phone me when she gets there,” said the officer.
“He then started driving, and she looked a bit stressed. He was aware she didn’t have any kind of belongings with her and he was quite concerned.
“She looked like there’d been an argument so he asked her if she was OK. She said ‘No’ – no more than that really.”
But the cabbie called the police, who raced to the roadside.
Experienced officers, including a Romanian-speaking cop, spoke to the woman, who eventually told them what had happened – and she was taken into protective custody.
“The taxi driver is going to be referred for a commendation because what a fantastic member of the public he was to do what he did,” said Det Insp Martin.
“He’s a family man, a local Asian taxi driver, and it was a very honourable thing he did.”
Coventry councillor Naeem Akhtar said: “The council provides training and information to licensed taxi drivers that if they see something suspicious and believe something is wrong then they must contact the relevant agency.
“I’m happy one of our drivers was brave and had the intelligence to see what was wrong and made a call to police in what is obviously a high profile case that has resulted in somebody getting convicted.
“It sends a message that this is a horrendous crime we won’t tolerate…this driver could have just ignored what he saw and the victim would have ended up in a brothel and God knows how long she would have been there. Mr Mehmood’s actions saved her.”
West Midlands Police worked with the National Crime Agency and Romanian police on the investigation – and praised the bravery of the victim in giving evidence.