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Romanian man (29) in court on rape and trafficking charges

By George Jackson

Published 27/07/2016

Florin Gheorghe is taken from Derry Court yesterday
Florin Gheorghe is taken from Derry Court yesterday

A man has appeared in court in Londonderry charged with raping a 26-year-old Romanian woman and with inciting prostitution.

Florin Gheorghe (29), who has been working as a casual labourer in Dundalk for the last five weeks following his arrival from Bucharest, was arrested in his rented flat at Meadowbank Court in the Strand Road area of Derry on Sunday shortly after the woman walked into the nearby police station and made allegations against him.

The defendant, who stood in the dock alongside an interpreter, faces five charges.

He is accused of raping the woman, falsely imprisoning her against her will and assaulting her, occasioning her actual bodily harm.

He is further charged with trafficking into the UK for sexual exploitation and with causing or inciting the woman to engage in prostitution.

The defendant, who denies the charges, is alleged to have committed the offences between June 19 and last Sunday.

A detective constable in the PSNI's Human Trafficking Unit told District Judge Barney McElholm that she believed she could connect the defendant to all five charges.

She said that following his arrest on Sunday the defendant gave the investigating police officers a pre-prepared statement in which he denied the allegations. He then made no further comment.

The officer confirmed that the complainant had made a verbal statement to the police and had not yet made a written or recorded statement.

Defence solicitor Paddy MacDermott said the defendant and the complainant were partners.

"She is pregnant with his child and she is alleged to have discovered infidelity on his part which caused her to make her complaints," he said.

The detective constable said after the defendant made her allegations to the police, she was medically and forensically examined.

"When being examined by a doctor she indicated that she had undergone a termination when in Romania," the officer added.

The detective constable said that police officers found £935 and €610 inside the defendant's Meadowbank Court flat on Sunday, and the complainant said the cash was "earnings she had made through prostitution".

Mr MacDermott said the defendant told him that he had only been in Northern Ireland for five weeks and that the cash found in his rented flat "was his earnings from his work as a casual labourer in Dundalk".

The defence solicitor said no bail application was being made because the tenancy of the defendant's rented flat had terminated. He said he hoped to obtain a bail address in hostel accommodation or with a friend of the defendant, who lives in Omagh.

The District Judge remanded Gheorghe in custody until August 1 for a potential video-link bail application.

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