Judge gives prostitutes €1,200 to leave Ireland

A judge has given four prostitutes €1,200 from seized money to leave Ireland and return to Romania.

They were among six people who appeared in court yesterday charged in connection with a prostitution ring in Co Donegal. Five women and one man appeared at Letterkenny District Court after gardaí smashed a sex ring operating at three different apartments in the same building.

The accused are all from Romania. All were charged with either managing, assisting, or acting in the running of a brothel for the purpose of habitual prostitution.

Gardaí had monitored the apartments at Riverside, Pearse Rd, for some time. When they raided the apartments, they found a woman in a state of undress and a customer in one of the apartments. Another of the prostitutes was hiding in a wardrobe.

Detective Sergeant Mick Carroll said all four women had taken out adverts for sexual services on the Escort Ireland website and three phones used for the adverts had been seized.

He said the women had been in Ireland for a number of months working as prostitutes. Three had been sending money home to their families, while one of the women had €5,890 in cash, which came from offering her services as a prostitute for the past five months.

All four were charged with prostitution.

Solicitor Patsy Gallagher said all four were vulnerable women whose circumstances had brought them here. Two had young children and were sending cash back to their families.

Another was a qualified nurse, but was caught in the temptation of making a large amount of money quickly. One was sending money home to her father who was awaiting an operation.

He said the women had not been pressurised and were simply trying to make as much money as possible. He said that, with the arrival of the Donegal International Rally in Letterkenny this weekend, they had hoped to be kept very busy.

“Of course, the weekend that is in it, they were hoping to have a bumper weekend with the rally coming up, but they are hoping to get out of town as quickly as possible,” said Mr Gallagher.

However, Garda Inspector Goretti Sheridan said the women had been overheard at Letterkenny Garda Station saying they would be “back working tonight” if they got out.

The judge asked Mr Gallagher if the women were “willing to get out of Dodge?”

Mr Gallagher asked if there was a time limit on their exit from the country and Judge Kelly replied: “The sooner the better.”

After considering the matter, he ordered €1,200 of the seized cash be divided amongst the women to buy one-way airline tickets back to Romania.

The women held each other’s hand and wept as he gave his direction.

Two other people, a husband and wife, also appeared on charges of running or assisting in the running of a brothel.

Ionel Bojaoga, 38, and Camelia Ungurianu, aged 35, were in the apartments when they were raided by Gardaí. Detective Niall Boyle said he was objecting to bail as he believed there was a flight risk and that witnesses may be interfered with.

Judge Kelly released Ms Ungurianu on her own bond of €250, but remanded Mr Bojaoga in custody to Harristown Court on Friday .

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