A Romanian man has been jailed for five years for his role in the aggravated burglary of the premises of two women working as escorts.
Ioan Galben (38) told gardai the women would not pay a “tax” to a criminal gang and that he had been “brainwashed” into collecting the tax levied by the gang.
The married father-of-two said he was in fear of members of the gang and expressed remorse.
Galben, of Warrenstown Park, Blanchardstown Heath, Blanchardstown, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to aggravated burglary at Parnell Street, Dublin 1 on November 12th, 2019.
Galben is currently serving a five-year sentence for a similar offence committed in Roscommon and has previous convictions in Romania for robbery, assault, threats and public order offences.
Judge Pauline Codd said the offence was aggravated by the fact that the accused was part of a gang who were involved in exploiting vulnerable women working as escorts at the time. She said it was essentially “racketeering” aimed at the most vulnerable.
She said Galben, who entered first, had laid the path for the other two men, who were armed with a blade and a knife to rob the women of a very paltry sum of cash, phones and cigarettes.
Judge Codd noted they had issued threats, including to one of the women that her throat would be cut and that the women had a genuine fear they would be cut.
She imposed a sentence of five and a half years and suspended the final six months on conditions including that Galben leave the jurisdiction on completion of his sentence.
Garda Pauline Treanor told Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, that gardai were liaising with the two women living and working as escorts at the flat as part of a safe guarding scheme in the inner city. She said they had checked on their safekeeping and that they were not acting under duress.
The women reported to gardai that there had been a knock on their door that evening and that the accused had come in and gone into a bedroom with one of the women. The other woman had a bad feeling about the man and tried to take a video when he came out of the room.
As the man opened the door of the apartment to leave, two other men, armed with a knife and a long blade came in. The three men, the accused and two armed men, told the women to give them their phones and looked for money.
Threat to cut her throat
One of the women told one of the men she had a very dangerous Albanian pimp who collected her money in an attempt to them to leave but the man told her he didn't care and threatened to cut her throat. She kicked the knife and it dropped on the mattress, the man then kicked her on the leg.
During the burglary Galben told the women to be quiet and not scream, or they would be killed.
The women later reported the incident to gardaí and Galben was interviewed. He acknowledged he had been at the flat and made substantial admissions.
Gda Treanor agreed with Fiona Murphy SC, defending, that Galben was not one of the people with the knives and that he was fully co-operative when arrested. She agreed he had expressed remorse.
Ms Murphy said this was a “horrible offence” with a group preying on people they saw as not protected in any way. She said the garda had been linking in with them so they did have a recourse in events like this but that did not change the disgusting nature of the offence.
She said Galben was genuinely remorseful and expressed disgust and shame at what he had done.
Ms Murphy submitted he had entered an early guilty plea on the basis that he was part of a joint enterprise and was not one of the people with the knife. She said he had moved to Ireland two years ago and struggled in the past with gambling which caused things to become difficult for him.