Belfast Telegraph

Man involved in plot to gang rape student at Portadown house jailed

By Paul Higgins

A man who was part of a predatory plot to gang rape a woman has been handed a seven-year sentence.

Craigavon Crown Court Judge Donna McColgan QC told Florin Muntean (27) the attack by him and three others in August 2014 had devastated the victim's life.

The court previously heard the young woman had made three serious attempts at taking her own life, was at one stage sectioned under mental health legislation, had dropped out of her university course and now suffers from anorexia and PTSD.

Ordering Romanian national Muntean to spend half his sentence in jail and half on licence, Judge McColgan confirmed that, like his accomplices, he will be deported back to his home country when he is released.

At an earlier hearing, Muntean, with an address given as c/o Maghaberry Prison, pleaded guilty to a single count of rape on August 25 2014.

Three other defendants, Florin Cirpaci (37), Ioan Lacatus (28) and Aurel Teglas (24), all with addresses in the Portadown area, were handed sentences totalling 16 years in May last year after they pleaded guilty to conspiring with Muntean to commit rape.

Muntean would have been dealt with at the same time but he fled Northern Ireland and was only brought back here last summer on foot of a European Arrest Warrant.

Rehearsing the facts of the case, Judge McColgan told how the then 22-year-old student met the defendants at a bar in Portadown and although she remembers being there, her main memory "is waking up in a bedroom being raped".

"There were two men present - one was raping her and the other was watching," said the judge.

When the first man finished, the second male tried to force her to perform a sex act before raping her.

The woman kept blanking in and out and told the first man to stop, telling him that he was hurting her.

He continued to rape her despite her protests and used his hands to hold her arms down. When the second attacker was finished, she ran from the house, finding herself in the Brownstown housing estate.

When the two rapists came out and offered her a lift, she accepted. She explained she accepted because given they had just raped her, "they couldn't do anything more than they had already".

Once dropped back at the bar she called her father, who took her to hospital when she told him what had happened. It was then the police investigation began.

Three days later when officers searched the house where she was raped, Muntean gave a sample for DNA profiling, but he was not arrested and fled the country.

CCTV footage from the bar "clearly showed" the victim with Lacatus, leaving with all four men at 1.40am, while cell site analysis placed them all at the house until around 3.30am.

The judge said: "The prosecution case presented to me was that four individuals identified her in Bar2, that Lacatus befriended her and she was taken in his car to the house where she would be raped and was raped and I accept that to be the case."

Judge McColgan said that while Muntean has pleaded guilty, albeit very close to his trial, the evidence against him was "very strong" given that the DNA profile taken from him matched semen on intimate swabs taken from the victim, coupled with CCTV and mobile phone site analysis.

The judge said there were numerous aggravating factors including the fact the victim was raped by two or more people acting together, that she had been held against her will, and the attack has had a "serious impact" on her life.

Judge McColgan revealed Muntean had been assessed as posing a low risk of re-offending, but that he had been "less than truthful" in his account of the offence in his probation report.

Belfast Telegraph

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