An alleged brothel keeper threatened to starve one of the prostitutes working for him unless she brought in more business, it has been alleged at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Mihai Selaru (aged 37) of Gateway Crescent, Ballymun, is accused of bringing two women over from Romania to work as prostitutes, after telling one he was going to get her work as a cleaner.
The Romanian national has pleaded not guilty to organising prostitution, keeping a brothel and living off the proceeds of prostitution between September 3 to 11, 2009 at an apartment on Liberty Square, James Joyce Street.
Prosecuting counsel, Mr Patrick McGrath BL, told the jury in his opening that the women’s pictures were uploaded to a website called Escort Ireland and clients could phone the women and arrange to meet them for sex.
A 26-year-old Romanian woman told the court that at one point Selaru told her she was scaring clients off because she was crying all the time and that she was bringing bad luck. She said he told her because she was not bringing in any money he would not give her any food.
She told Mr McGrath that she met Selaru though her husband in her home country and he promised to get her a job in Ireland working as a cleaner for €300 a week. She said she came over with another woman who was the girlfriend of Selaru.
She said Selaru paid for the flights and also got them an apartment on James Joyce Street. She said all the food in the apartment was bought by Selaru or the other woman and that she never left unless she was in the company of one of them.
She said when she and the other woman had been there a few days a man called Brian came to take their pictures for the escort website and this is when she realised she would be working as a prostitute. She said he took pictures of her in her underwear and topless and she later had to hand over €250 to activate her profile on the site.
A print-out of her profile on the site was presented as an exhibit to the court and she appeared to cry as she identified herself in the pictures.
She said soon after her profile went up, a man called her and arranged to come over for sex. She said he paid €130 for half and hour and also gave her an extra €60. Over the next week another two men visited and paid for sex.
She told Mr McGrath that Selaru arrived in the country several days after the women and demanded all the money the men had given her because she had to repay him for the flights and apartment. She said she handed over all the money except for the extra €60 which she hid under her mattress.
The trial continues before Judge Pat McCartan and a jury of eight men and four women.