Four women plead guilty to operating Galway brothel

They deny they were trafficked and say they were acting alone, to raise money for families

Gardaí believe four 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 – appeared before a special sitting of Galway District Court on Monday, which heard they were 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 women deny this and claim they were acting alone – to raise money for their impoverished families in Romania.

The court heard they were arrested at An Larnach, Bohermore, Galway, at 11pm on Saturday and pleaded guilty to operating a brothel there.

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The arrests were made an hour after gardaí, who had been monitoring the property, questioned a man leaving the apartment who said he had paid €70 for sexual favours.

Det Sgt Willie Byrne said the four women were taken to Galway Garda station and accepted full responsibility for operating a brothel.

Some €5,000 in cash was confiscated from the women, he added.

Abused

The young women told gardaí they only arrived in Ireland last week and were acting alone.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

In reply to Judge Gerard Furlong, Det Sgt Byrne said he did not believe the women when they said 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.”

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

Det Sgt Byrne said he had mentioned the help some organisations could afford them, but the women had assured him they were not trafficked into the country and were not under any pressure.

Repatriated

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

Defence solicitor Brian Gilmartin said the women came from a very poor part of Romania and told him they had come to Ireland to make some money to help their parents.

“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 organisations who would help them.