A SEX worker who had a knife thrust in her mouth by a client feared she would die at the man’s hands.

Brute Alin Balan laughed as he cut the woman’s face and threatened to kill her if she called the police. He was jailed for six years at Swindon Crown Court yesterday for the petrifying attack in the town centre last November.

The court heard the woman had been walking through town with a former boyfriend in the early evening of November 26 last year when she was stopped by Balan, who was sat on a racing bike eating a hotdog.

He asked her “how much?” which surprised the woman as he was a stranger. She agreed to perform a sex act on the man for £15. It took place in a service area on Queen Street behind the former Wilko store.

He requested sex and a fee of £40 was agreed. They walked together down Curtis Street towards Balan’s home on Radnor Street, which he shared with his partner and her young child.

The man left on his bike to get the money, leaving her sitting on a wall. He returned and the pair went into an alleyway.

Prosecutor George Threlfall said the woman was spooked when a stranger interrupted them to ask for a cigarette.

They went to another alleyway between William Street and Radnor Street. There Balan grabbed the woman by the neck and twisted his hand.

“She thought that he was trying to break her neck. She then felt a knife being held against her throat,” Mr Threlfall said.

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Alin Balan Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE

The blade was thrust into her mouth, cutting her palate and causing the woman to gag. Balan demanded she hand over money.

Mr Threlfall told the court: “During this time, the woman thought she was going to die. She thought of her children and she thought to herself this is it. She felt petrified and didn’t know what to do.

“She kept trying to explain to him that she had nothing, was homeless, penniless and had nothing to take.”

The woman handed over loose change from her pockets. But realising Balan wanted the cash he had just paid her for sex she tried to walk away. He grabbed her, punched her in the stomach and took the notes together with seven rings from her fingers.

He cut her cheek and, drawing his hand across her throat, warned the woman: “You tell police, I will kill you.” He laughed as he made the threat.

During an hour-long interview at Gablecross police station on December 1 Balan admitted having paid a woman for sex but denied robbing a sex worker. He claimed to have a medical condition that meant he struggled to remember things, but told detectives all records relating to the affliction were in Romania.

Despite the initial denial, Balan, formerly of Radnor Street, Swindon, pleaded guilty to robbery and possession of a blade.

The EU national had been living in the UK for less than a year and a half. He had a partner in this country, with whom he had a young child, and worked long shifts at the car wash on Fleming Way near the Magic Roundabout.

Gareth James, defending, said: “He accepts fully his behaviour was completely unacceptable. He accepts he will receive a custodial sentence.”

Jailing him for a total of six years, Judge Peter Crabtree said: “As a result of your violence the victim suffered a number of cuts and wounds.

“It is also clear from her video recorded interview transcript she was left very shaken and traumatised by your actions and at times believed she was going to die. She kept saying to you she had nothing and was homeless.”

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He added: “This is a higher culpability case. You produced a weapon, which is a higher culpability factor in itself, and then use it. It was a blade and inflicted the injury. So far as harm is concerned it is plain that your victim was traumatised at the time, suffered very real if not serious injuries and that your violence has had a continuing and very real psychological impact on her.”

Although a probation officer had deemed Balan to be a high risk of harming the public, Judge Crabtree stepped short of ordering that the robber serve an extended sentence. He said: “I have considered whether this is a case where I need to impose the extended sentence provisions on the basis of whether you are dangerous, noting in particular the circumstances of these offences and the assessment of risk by the probation officer.

“I accept there is an argument that I should engage this provision. However, these are your first offences and I have imposed a substantial custodial sentence, which means you are subject to licence provisions for some time after your release if you are not, as is likely, deported.”