Parents jailed for forcing children to beg on streets of London

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1 August 2010

A Romanian Roma couple, Speranta Mihai and Gheorghe Mihai, who forced their seven children to act as beggars and thieves in and around London have been jailed after pleading guilty to child cruelty and benefit fraud charges.

Following their arrival in the UK in 2007 members of the Mihai family were stopped 99 times by the police for begging and theft. The couple were arrested in a dawn raid at a flat in Slough, Berkshire by officers from London Metropolitan Police’s Operation Golf.

The children, now aged between two and 16 years old, were found sleeping on the floor of the flat. Two of the children were found with injuries suffered while in their parents care, including one child who had cigarette burns.

Police said that the parents believed their children could earn as much as £100,000 a year from begging in London.

Speranta Mihai was sentenced for 30 months and Gheorghe Mihai for 18 months.