Four young, vulnerable Romanian women who were arrested in Galway over the weekend, were trafficked into Ireland by a criminal gang to work in brothels, gardaí believe.
The four women, aged 21, 22, 23 and 30, who appeared before a special court sitting in Galway yesterday, are believed to have been brought into the country by either Dublin or Belfast-based pimps to provide sexual services for a large number of men through the Escort Ireland website.
The four deny this and claim they were acting alone to raise money for impoverished families in Romania.
They were arrested at 15 An Larnach, Bohermore, Galway, at 11pm on Saturday night, October 29, and pleaded guilty straight away to operating a brothel at that address. The arrests were made an hour after gardaí quizzed a man leaving the apartment who said he had just paid €70 for sex.
Gardaí have also pointed the finger at the “greedy” Galway landlord who demanded €700 a week from the women for the use of the apartment which would normally cost €350.
Detective Sergeant Willie Byrne told the special sitting of Galway District Court that gardaí were carrying out surveillance of the apartment and they executed a search warrant on speaking to the man after he left the apartment.
The four women were taken to Galway Garda Station where they accepted full responsibility for operating a brothel. They were brought before a special sitting of Galway District Court yesterday where they huddled together, at times anxiously biting their nails or wiping away tears as a Romanian interpreter explained what was being said for them.
Det Byrne gave evidence gardaí did not know how long the women were in Ireland but they had been in Mayo last week and after spending a week in Galway, it was their intention to go to Wexford next week.
The women told gardaí they had only arrived in Ireland last week and were acting alone, but Det Byrne said he did not accept this.
“In any event, they are four little girls and they made full admissions that they were providing sexual services to a large number of men through the website, Escort Ireland. They were paying €700 rent to a greedy landlord for an apartment they should have been paying €350 for. So, they were being used and abused by a lot of people,” Det Byrne said.
In reply to Judge Gerard Furlong, Det Byrne said he didn’t believe the girls when they told him they worked alone. “I believe they are under the control of Dublin or Belfast-based pimps.
Judge Furlong said the women “should be made aware of organisations that were there to assist them, should they want that in their plight”.
Defence solicitor, Brian Gilmartin, said all of the women came from a poor area in Romania and they told him they had come to Ireland to make some money to help their parents, some of whom were seriously ill.
“They are somewhat vulnerable and they didn’t believe their actions would bring them before the courts. They have spent two nights in Garda custody and it’s been a frightening experience for them,” he added.
Ruling the girls were being used by others not before the court, Judge Furlong convicted and fined each of them €200, payable forthwith and asked the gardaí to put them in contact with the relevant organisations who would help them.
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