A Nigerian woman who ran a prostitution service and kept brothels in Sligo and Longford has been jailed for three years at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, writes Sonya McLean.
Charity Ajayioba (36) later claimed that she had been trafficked to Ireland and was forced to work here as a prostitute to pay back a debt.
The court heard that the brothels earned €90,000 over 36 months and that there were at least two to three women working at each location.
Patrick Reynolds BL, defending, suggested to Detective Sergeant Frank McGrath that Ajayioba was “trapped in this country and moved around as a prostitute”.
“My investigation led me to believe that she was neither a victim of human trafficking nor was she a victim of sexual exploitation. I believe she was a suspect in this investigation at all times,” the Det Sgt told the court.
He accepted that although analysis of Ajayioba’s bank statements showed sums of money going into her account, she was arrested with “only the clothes on her back” and gardai have no evidence that she has any other assets.
Det Sgt McGrath told Garret Baker BL, prosecuting, that the State’s principal witness was a prostitute who had been working for Ajayioba.
This woman came to garda attention when they raided a house in the Rathbaun Estate, in Sligo, after it was noted that a number of Nigerian woman had been living there without making themselves known to the relevant authorities.
Det Sgt McGrath said the prostitute later made a detailed 31 page statement to gardai outlining where the prostitution took place and identifying three properties in Sligo and one in Longford.
She claimed that she had earned €44,300 at that stage working as a prostitute and she had given half of that directly to Ajayioba, the remainder went on rent and bills.
Ajayioba, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to directing the activities of a prostitute and keeping a brothel in Sligo on March 22, 2007. She has no previous convictions and has been in custody since her arrest in April 2011. She was also arrested at that time on “an immigration matter”.
Det Sgt McGrath said Ajayioba was arrested in Ballymun and although she initially denied the offence and knowing the State witness, she later made “certain admissions”.
Mr Reynolds suggested to Judge Martin Nolan that Ajayioba had been “forced to keep a brothel”.
“She did what she had to do to survive. There is no indication that she reaped the benefits of this. She had to pay back a debt. The money went into her account and it went out,” Mr Reynolds said.
“Gardai suggest she is a much bigger player than she was but my client cannot be sentenced on a nudge, nudge, wink, wink,” counsel said.
Judge Nolan said Det Sgt McGrath did not accept Mr Reynolds’s submission that his client was “only a small bit ahead of the State’s chief witness” and said that counsel had no evidence to offer in support of Ajayiboa’s proposition.
Mr Baker said he didn’t think it was fair to suggest that the Det Sgt McGrath was adopting a “nudge, nudge, wink, wink approach to the prosecution of the case”.
Judge Nolan said Ajayioba had been directing at least one prostitute and was keeping brothels.
He accepted the facts of the case were “unclear” as to what position Ajayioba held, her level of control or the amount of profit she made in the running of these brothels.
Judge Nolan said Ajayioba was entitled to “credit” for her pleas of guilty but said they were serious offences before he jailed her for three years.