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Dungannon ‘sex traffic’ remand

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Dungannon ‘sex traffic’ remand thumbnailThe house at John Street Dungannon which was raided by PSNI.

A HUNGARIAN couple with an address in Dungannon have appeared in court charged with trafficking a 29-year-old woman into Northern Ireland and forcing her into prostitution.

Gyorgy Orsos (32) and Evelyn Covacs (20), both with an address at John Street, Dungannon, appeared in the dock at Strabane Magistrate's Court on Thursday last.

They are each charged with human trafficking, controlling prostitution for gain, kidnap, concealing the proceeds of crime and converting criminal property.

Orsos also faces further charges of two counts of raping the woman, damaging her mobile phone and stealing her bank cards.

The charges were put to the defendants via an interpreter and both indicated that they understood the charges.

A detective constable - the investigating officer in the case - told the Court that she believed she could connect the pair to the charges.

Outlining the background to the alleged offences, she told the Court that on Tuesday, May 16, Police received a report from a member of the public about concerns for the safety and wellbeing of a female.

Police attended the address in Dungannon and spoke to the injured party. The house was in poor condition and officers noted that the bedrooms had locks on the outside and inside of doors.

 There were also boxes of condoms with one room showing signs of being used for prostitution.

The female alleged that she had been brought to Northern Ireland from Hungary by the defendants seven months ago.

During interview, she said that she was under the belief that she would be working a regular job and given money to look after her family back home.

"When she arrived in Northern Ireland she was then forced to work in the sex trade," the officer said.

The woman further claimed that Orsos raped her on two different occasions when she first arrived in the country.

She also alleged that he smashed her mobile phone with a hammer, stole her bank cards and brought her away from the house against her will.

She further stated that on Tuesday afternoon, 16th May, Orsos, who she referred to as her "boss", called at her house, threatened her, told her to pack her things and drove her towards Dublin airport.

However, she had not brought her identification with her and was brought back to Dungannon.

"The injured party states that both defendants together run her as a prostitute," the detective constable said.

 It was alleged Covacs took her photo, placed adverts on escort websites and was responsible for taking calls from clients and making arrangements for services and prostitution.

"She stated that was done against her will and that both defendants were aware of this but continued to do it.

"In relation to the money laundering, the injured party has claimed that the money that was earned through her sexual exploitation was taken from her by both the defendants. She believes that this money is owed to her," the officer added.

Police, the court heard, were opposed to bail on a number of grounds including fear of interference with the witness, the likelihood of committing further offences, failing to surrender to bail and flight risk.

She said that neither have criminal records in Northern Ireland but that the PSNI are liaising with authorities in Hungary to see if have have a record there.

"Police would also be concerned that the injured party has alleged that approximately £13,000 - which is the criminal property - is still outstanding and has not been located by Police," the officer told the Court.

"There is a concern that this property may be further converted, concealed or transferred or disposed of in another way if bail is granted."

 "There are links to other addresses in Omagh but they have yet to be checked. It seems that there has been quite a transient movement from Omagh to Dungannon," she added.

The couple, the court was told, had no passports. During interview they initially gave a "no comment" exchange before submitting pre-prepared statements.

A bail address in Omagh was deemed unsuitable by Police and the officer added that she believed there were no bail conditions which could be imposed to alleviate concerns.

Barrister Blaine Nugent reiterated that his clients - who have been in a three year relationship - had come to Northern Ireland over a year ago by car and then ferry and had no criminal records.

Mr Nugent said that although both accepted knowing the injured party as "a fellow Hungarian national in this jurisdiction" they "strongly" denied the allegations brought against them.

The pair had been living in Omagh prior to their move to Dungannon over two months ago, he added, with Orsos making a living for the couple by working in various car washes in the Dungannon, Omagh and Fintona areas.

"It's my submission that there are conditions within your worship's armory that you could impose. No good reason has been shown as to why the bail address given isn't suitable. The seriousness of a criminal offence itself is not a justification for refusal of bail," Mr Nugent said.

He accepted that whilst there is a prima facie case against the defendants, both are entitled to the presumption in favour of innocence.

"This is a matter which is going to take some time to fully investigate. They face a very lengthy time in incarceration if they are not granted bail," he concluded.

District judge, Nigel Broderick, said he took the barrister's submissions on board, but supported the PSNI's concerns on the risk of further offences, failing to attend for trial or interference with injured party.

"Clearly the allegations are of a serious nature and it's not without significance that neither defendants have any strong ties to the jurisdiction. There are also issues in relation to the viability of their address and concerns have been expressed about the risk of interference with the complainant as they both know her."

Bail was subsequently refused with both defendants remanded into custody to appear before Dungannon Magistrate's Court on 14th June.

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