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Buncrana court hears of brothel raid 08.12.11

GARDAÍ who raided a brothel in Letterkenny last night found new clothes bought by a mother as Christmas gifts for her children, a court heard today.
Romanian nationals Veronica Baicu (28) and Madalina Bargan (20) admitted using an apartment in Letterkenny as a brothel. Their solicitor, Patsy Gallagher, said his clients were "vulnerable" woman who were trying to earn money for their respective families back home.
Buncrana District Court heard that gardai got a tip-off that a property, at 35 Glenveagh Court, Justice Walsh Road, Letterkenny, was being used as a brothel.
They set up surveillance during which they saw a number of men entering and leaving the property. A warrant was issued and gardaí swooped last night at 10.20pm.
No clients were in the apartment at the time but €875 in cash, laptops, condoms and other items were found.
Garda Paul Harris told the court he found new clothing for "young kids" in the property.
Ms Baicu and Ms Bargan, who had no previous convictions, had moved into the apartment just two days earlier and had paid the rent up front, the court was told. They had advertised their services on a "well known" escort website.
The court heard that Ms Baicu was a divorced mother-of-three children, aged 8, 10 and 12, who had suffered domestic abuse in the past.
Ms Bargan had elderly parents in rural Romania to whom she regularly sent money. Ms Bargan had previously suffered a "traumatic" assault and robbery by a client in the Midlands, the court heard.
Mr Gallagher said the women's operation was entirely their own "with no element of human trafficking". He asked Judge Paul Kelly to allow the defendants to donate to charity while leaving them enough money for a flight home. However, Judge Kelly said there appeared to be a perception abroad that there was money to be made in Ireland. "That needs to be discouraged," he said. He convicted and fined each of the women €300. He allowed them to keep the remaining €275 to pay for their return travel to Romania.
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