Man denies he knew he would be "working with prostitutes"

Preston Crown Court

Preston Crown Court

A man accused of helping to run a brothel where two trafficked women were allegedly forced to work has taken to the witness box to deny the charges.

Three men are on trial at Preston Crown Court in connection with allegations two young Romanian women were trafficked into Lancashire and forced to work as prostitutes in a Preston house.

Ionut Ion, 35, of Longworth Street, Preston, denies two counts of rape and assisting in the management of a brothel.

Co-defendants Marius Petre, 26, and Adrian Matei, 34, both of Longworth Street, Preston, deny two counts of rape, intentionally arranging or facilitating entry into the country of a person with a view to their sexual exploitation, and causing or inciting prostitution between July 10 and 27.

When quizzed about why he had left the UK to go back to Romania, Ion told the court he had previously worked in construction but had to pay a friend who had found him the employment £100 a week for the service.

Speaking through an interpreter, he said his 'friend' had wanted him continue paying him and the pair had had an argument.

He told the court he then returned to the UK after being offered a job as a "24 hour driver" to drive masseurs around, and left his car in Romania .

Prosecutor Bob Golinski, cross examining him, said: "You were in Romania, you were being offered employment, income and accommodation and someone was going to pay your flight to come back to the UK?"

He replied: "Yes, that's correct."

Mr Golinski added: "Well is that really the truth? Was it the case you had money yourself which you made from your involvement in prostitution?

"You were being asked to leave your family in Romania and work as a driver for prostitutes weren't you?

He replied: "I haven't been told they were involved in prostitution. I was told they were doing massage."

Mr Golinski added: "Are you a very naive man do you think?

He said: "I think so yes."

"The situation in Romania was very poor. I was happy they offered me food and accommodation. I thought it was better for me."

When asked how his wife felt about him going to do "that work", he said: "She was not very happy about me living in the same house with so many women."

Mr Golinski said: "Was that because she knew and you knew you were coming over here to work with prostitutes?

He replied: "Yes, In a way, yes."

(proceeding)