Man (29) denies renting out Derry home as a brothel

A man in Derry allegedly rented out his home to be used as a brothel, the High Court heard today.

Court.
Court.

Prosecutors claimed Catalin Diaconu, 29, was involved in arrangements with women seeking a discreet property for clients.

The Romanian national, with an address at Ferguson Street in the city, faces charges of brothel keeping, controlling prostitution for gain, and being concerned in the supply of cocaine and cannabis.

During a bail application Crown lawyer Sarah Minford said police went to his flat in October last year for an unrelated case.

A woman in the property told officers she was from Dublin and had paid £350 to rent it for a week to provide massages to clients.

She appeared nervous and said one man had left through a rear exit just as police arrived, the court heard.

The woman later claimed the owner of the address had posted pictures of her on escort websites.

Ms Minford submitted: “Due to the interaction and the way the flat was laid out, with two bedrooms, lubricants and lingerie lying around, police suspected the property to be in use as a brothel.”

Diaconu was subsequently arrested, and his mobile phone seized.

In police interviews he confirmed that he lived alone, claiming that he rented part of the property to the woman without knowing anything about any escort services.

According to the prosecution, however, messages recovered from his mobile contradicted that account.

“It was obvious that he was aware the individual enquiring was a prostitute, either through what they were saved as on his phone, or due to the questioning about requiring a discreet property for clients, women in the property texting to say clients were about to arrive, and on some occasions the applicant even booked an appointment with them himself,” Ms Minford contended.

Other messages allegedly related to the supply of cocaine and cannabis.

Diaconu denies any involvement in prostitution or running a brothel.

His barrister, Stephen Mooney, also insisted: “There is no pimping aspect and no human trafficking.”

The accused had been returned to custody for breaching a prohibition on having a phone with internet access.

Granting bail to him once more, Mr Justice Fowler warned that it was a last chance.

“He’s incredibly lucky to be getting bail again,” the judge said.