A Romanian man who imprisoned a woman who thought he was a taxi driver and drove her 35 miles from her destination in Dublin city centre to Wicklow where she managed to escape has been given a three-year sentence.
Cezer Croitoru (aged 35) arrived in Ireland in 2004 after being released from a prison sentence in his native country for an almost identical offence involving a firearm claimed that the woman had given him incorrect directions.
Croitoru, of Upper Dorset Street, Dublin 1, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to false imprisoning the 23 year-old Polish woman on August 27, 2006 between Haddington Road, Dublin 4 and Rathnew, Co. Wicklow. A count of assaulting the woman was taken into consideration.
Judge Patricia Ryan said she had to take into account that this was a serious offence which had a deep and lasting effect on the victim who has since returned permanently to Poland. She imposed a three-year sentence and suspended the final year.
Inspector Colm O'Malley told Mr Vincent Heneghan BL, prosecuting, that the woman was trying to hail a taxi on Haddington Road after leaving a party at a friends house when Croitoru stopped in his Nissan Terrano jeep and asked her where she was going.
The woman told gardaí that she asked him if he was a taxi and that he told her he had just started working and did not have a plate yet. She thought she could see a meter in the car and got into the front seat asking him to take her to Mountjoy Square.
She said the man told her he knew the way to Mountjoy Square but she became concerned when he did not take the route she expected into the city centre. She said she asked him why he was going the wrong way and began screaming at him to let her out but found the door was locked.
She said he told her he was crazy and shouted "you f***ing b***h, you're f***ing mad". She tried to phone a friend for help but Croitoru slapped the phone out of her hand and the battery came out as it hit the ground.
She also tried to grab the steering wheel and force the door open but he began dragging her and punching her on the arm.
The woman said she saw signs for the M50 and Dundrum and then for Wexford and Wicklow as they drove along the motor way and she noticed that when she co-operated he was less aggressive.
She asked him if she could go to the toilet so he took a slip road off the motorway sign posted for Rathnew.
She said he drove into a dark cul de sac, sign-posted "private", but she began crying and saying she could not go to the toilet there. He started to hold, lick and kiss her hand and she said she was terrified.
Croitoru then drove her to nearby Rathnew Service Station, arriving at 3am to find it closed.
She got out of the car and pretended to look for somewhere to go to the toilet but when Croitoru got back into the jeep she started screaming and ran to a house in a nearby estate called Charvey Court and banged on the door.
She said Croitoru shouted "What are you doing?" as she sought assistance from the homeowner, who alerted gardaí. The woman was able to take down the registration number of the jeep before Croitoru drove off.
Garda Seamus O'Brien of Wicklow Garda station arrived at the scene and details of the jeep were circulated. Croitoru was stopped at 3.50am driving northbound on the M50 at Cherrywood and arrested.
Insp. O'Malley said Croitoru admitted picking the woman up and failing to let her out of the jeep but denied the door was locked and said there had been difficulties with the directions she gave him because they were speaking to each other in broken English rather than their native tongue.
Croitoru denied that he had picked the woman up for sex or that he had intended to rape her.
Insp. O'Malley told Mr Heneghan that Croitoru had one previous conviction in Romanian for false imprisonment in similar circumstances but involving a firearm in that case.
Insp. O'Malley agreed with defence counsel, Mr John Peart SC, that Croitoru, who works in motorway maintenance, had arrived in Ireland in 2004 and that same year married an Irish woman in a civil ceremony. He agreed that Croitoru had a different interpretation of events then that outlined in the woman's statement.
Mr Peart asked the court to consider there was "an element of misadventure" in this case and there were factors that marked it out from other abductions such as the woman not being constrained when she was let out to go to the toilet.