Sex worker lured into car then robbed at knifepoint in Leeds red light district

The red light district in Holbeck where the incident happened (file photo)
The red light district in Holbeck where the incident happened (file photo)
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A MAN lured a street sex worker into his car in Leeds' manged red light zone before his accomplice robbed her at knifepoint.

A court heard the vulnerable victim was targeted in Holbeck by Mark Cole and another man.

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The managed red light scheme – thought to be a first in the country – allows street sex workers to operate in a designated area during certain hours without fear of arrest.

Cole picked the woman up late at night on August 1 last year before stopping his car a short distance away.

Daniel Penman, prosecuting, said Cole then got out of the vehicle and the other man approached the car to carry out the robbery.

She was threatened with a knife as £80 in cash, a handbag and purse containing bank cards and other personal documents were taken.

The prosecutor said the woman had turned to prostitution as her immigration status was uncertain following her husband's death and she was unable to work legally.

In a victim statement she said: "I had to sell my body even more to make up for it.

"I had to shoplift to survive so I could eat.

"Emotionally it has been very difficult. I have been very scared."

Cole, 41, of Somerdale Close, Bramley, pleaded guilty to robbery on the day of his trial.

The court heard Cole pleaded guilty to the offence on the basis that he was unaware that his accomplice was going to use a knife to threaten the woman.

Cole told a probation officer he "felt sick to his stomach" over the ordeal the victim was subjected to.

Michael Walsh, mitigating, said: "He has to accept that there was planning involved. It is perhaps not the most sophisticated offence.

"It is a horrible offence against someone who was vulnerable.

"There was a time not too long ago when people in this vulnerable position were not properly protected by law enforcement agencies.

"Thankfully they are now."

Mr Walsh said the father of four took part in the offence during a difficult period in his life when he had separated from his partner.

Cole was given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He was ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work and pays £180 compensation to the victim.