Women granted immunity in sex-trafficking case

 

THE DIRECTOR of Public Prosecutions is to grant immunity from prosecution to two Nigerian women to allow them give evidence in the trial in Wales of an Irishman for sex-trafficking.

Next Monday is the deadline for the delivery of statements to the Welsh court, where Thomas John Carroll (47), of Castlemartin, Pembrokeshire, west Wales, faces prosecution for trafficking, controlling prostitution and the operation of brothels across Britain and Northern Ireland.

His arrest last December in Wales was the result of joint operation by An Garda Síochána, the PSNI and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) in Britain.

The operation involved raiding brothels in Cavan, Drogheda, Mullingar, Sligo, Carlow, Kilkenny, Enniscorthy, Newbridge, Waterford, and others in the North and in Britain.

Seven women from Namibia, Nigeria and Brazil were rescued by the PSNI.

The police said the women had been regularly threatened, assaulted and raped.

Two alleged victims – one of whom was a minor when allegedly trafficked – who were found in brothels in the Republic, agreed to give statements against him.

As they may be liable for prosecution themselves for the possession of false immigration papers and involvement in prostitution, as well as for other matters that may arise in relation to their evidence, they sought immunity from prosecution.

Article 26 of the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings contains a “non-punishment provision” that allows “for the possibility of not imposing penalties on victims for their involvement in unlawful activities, to the extent that they have been compelled to do so” – ie, that they were forced to commit crimes by the nature of having been trafficked.

The Nigerian women’s solicitor, Ann Fitzgibbon, had applied for immunity for the women in April and in June.

She received news yesterday that the DPP would grant immunity.

“I have not got the letters in my hand yet but I have just had a call saying they were being written as we speak.”

She said it would have been less stressful if the applications had been processed in reasonable time.

“Obviously now we and the GNIB are going to have to pull out all the stops to take the statements and get them to Wales by next Monday. We have a very tiny window but it’s a good problem really. At least we can get the statements included.”

All evidence had to be presented at court on Monday and Mr Carroll and his counsel would then decide how he would plea. A date for his full trial will be set in coming weeks.

Ms Fitzgibbon said the two women were “severely traumatised” and described them a “brave” to agree to give evidence against their alleged captors.

They had been granted temporary residence in the Republic and were undertaking courses.

Also arrested in connection with the alleged offences were Mr Carroll’s ex-wife, his son, daughter, and his partner, a South African national Shamiela Clark (31).