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File photo Rod McGuirk/PA Wire

Gardaí don't believe young sex workers were operating Galway brothel on their own

The four women, in their 20s and 30s, were fined in court yesterday.

GARDAÍ BELIEVE 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 across the country.

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 young women deny this and claim they were acting alone to raise money for their impoverished families in Romania.

They were arrested at An Larnach, Bohermore, Galway, at 11pm on Saturday night, 29 October, 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 sexual favours.

Detective Sergeant Willie Byrne told the special sitting of Galway District Court that gardaí were carrying out surveillance of the apartment over the last number of weeks and they executed a search warrant on speaking to the man after he left the apartment at 10pm on Saturday night.

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 today where they huddled together as an interpreter explained what was being said for them.

Byrne gave evidence that gardaí did not know how long the young 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 young women told gardaí they had only arrived in Ireland last week and were acting alone, but Detective 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 that they should have been paying €350 for. So, they were being used and abused by a lot of people,” Byrne added.

In reply to Judge Gerard Furlong, Byrne said he didn’t believe the women when they told him they worked alone.

“I believe they are under the control of Dublin or Belfast-based pimps. They were in Mayo last week, Galway this week and Wexford next week. That would have to be organised by others. They wouldn’t have the ‘wherewithal’ to organise that themselves,” he continued in evidence.

Gardaí confiscated €5,000 cash from the women, he added.

Judge Furlong said he accepted the women had not set up the brothel themselves and another party – who was not before the court at this time - was involved.

He asked if the women had been put in touch with organisations which would help women in their situation.

Byrne said he had mentioned the help certain organisations could afford them, but the women had assured him they were not trafficked into the country and they weren’t under any pressure.

They said they would prefer to be repatriated back to Romania and he said he hoped what they had told him was genuine.

Judge Furlong said the women should be made aware of organisations that were there to assist them.

Defence solicitor Brian Gilmartin said all of the women came from a very 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 women 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.

More: Genesis II Church ‘bishop’ fined €4,000 for making and marketing ‘autism cure’

Read: Teen who attacked Middle Eastern boy with hurley sentenced to 18 months detention

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