A gang jailed after Scotland’s highest-profile human trafficking trial are appealing their convictions, we can reveal.
Vojtech Gombar, Ratislav Adam and Jana Sandorova, from Slovakia, and Anil Wagle, from Nepal, have already billed taxpayers for £325,000 in legal aid with the sum now due to increase substantially.
The four were convicted in October, after a seven-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow, of human trafficking charges involving a string of women brought to Scotland from a remote part of Slovakia in central Europe.
The gang, based in two adjacent flats in a tenement in Glasgow’s Govanhill, sold one of the women to Wagle for £10,000 in a transaction conducted outside a Primark store in Glasgow city centre.
The other victims were sold in sham marriages to beat immigration controls with some women were coerced into prostitution while pregnant.
The traffickers were snared by an international police operation codenamed Synapsis and they were sentenced to a total of 36 years in prison but could now go free if their appeals are successful.
Sources said Gombar, Adam and Sandorova have indicated an intention to appeal both their convictions and sentence.
Wagle and his legal team have also given notice of an intention to appeal although a formal application has not yet been lodged in his case.
The total taxpayer-funded legal aid paid to gang ringleader Vojtech Gombar, 61, who was represented during the court case by Paul Hannah Solicitors and Ronnie Renucci QC, this month stands at £126,401. Gombar’s stepdaughter Sandorova, 28, represented by advocate Mark Moir, has been paid £20,911, while her partner Adam, 31, represented by Gilroy and Co and solicitor advocate Jim Stephenson, has received £74,487 in legal aid.
Wagle, 38, has received a total of £106,812. He was represented during his trial by GR Brown solicitors and Gary Allan QC. The total legal aid paid in the case so far amounts to £328,611.
The sum could rise significantly as lawyers have several months to submit accounts, while the bill will increase substantially as appeal proceedings progress.
A Scottish legal aid board spokesman said: “Legal aid is paid directly to lawyers to represent people accused of serious crimes to help ensure a jury can reach an appropriate verdict in a timely manner.
“Serious and complex cases with multiple accused are expensive because of the amount of work for solicitors and counsel.
“If the accused were unrepresented there would be greater costs to the courts and prosecution.
“This would not be in the best interests of witnesses or the criminal justice system.”
Sentencing the trafficking gang last month, judge Lord Beckett said: “Such crimes are utterly repugnant. They involve the degradation of other humans, treating them as if they were objects or animals to be transported and sold for exploitation.”