Three men who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rape, laughed in the dock at Craigavon Crown Court this morning (Wednesday, May 10) when they received jail sentences which could see them released within a month.
The men smirked and smiled as a Romanian interpreter translated the jail terms handed down by District Judge Donna McColgan QC.
Aurel Teglas, aged 23, with an address at 12 Corcrain Drive, Portadown, Ioan Aurel Lacatus, aged 27, of the same address and Florin Cirpaci, aged 36, of North Street Portadown all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rape a woman on August 25, 2014.
Lacatus and Cirpaci were sentenced to five and a half years in jail, 33 months in custody and 33 on licence, while Teglas was jailed for five years, 30 months in prison and 30 months on licence.
However, with time served, Teglas could be released within days while the other two released next month.
During sentencing District Judge McColgan revealed harrowing details of how a young student was gang raped at a house in Portadown.
The Judge recounted how the 22-year-old student had met the defendants at Bar Two in Portadown.
She said the victim had recently returned home from university and had gone with friends to the bar.
Over the next few hours she danced and had some drinks. “The next thing she remembers was being in a bed with a man she believed to have been of Indian extraction on top of her,” said the Judge.
The judge said she saw another man watching but she was blanking in and out of consciousness. She remembers telling the man to stop. When he stopped a second man raped her.
The victim had attempted to get up ‘but was held down’.
Eventually her phone, bag and shoes were handed back to her and she ran down the stairs.
She went outside but didn’t know the area she was in.
She accepted a lift from two of the men from the house where she was attacked because she believed ‘that they couldn’t do anything more to her’.
When she returned to Bar Two she called her father and told him what happened. He described his daughter as ‘distant and disconnected’ and brought her to the Emergency Department.
At that stage the police were called and later a house in Drumard Avenue, Portadown was searched and a BMW car belonging to Lacatus was seized.
The man who rented the property at Drumard Avenue had left the jurisdiction.
The police viewed CCTV footage at Bar Two and the town centre.
The victim was seen clearly in an intoxicated stage supported by Lacatus. They were followed by others and drove to Drumard Avenue.
Investigations revealed that Cirpaci had called the registered tenant of the property twice and the judge said it was a reasonable assumption that this was to arrange a venue for the attack.
She said the DNA evidence was ‘complicated’ and mostly related to a fourth man who has since left the jurisdiction.
Judge McColgan also said that the three defendants repeatedly changed their stories, particularly after being shown CCTV footage and only pleaded guilty just prior to trial.
She also said that the degree of harm caused to the defendant was ‘significant’.
She added that the victim had suffered severely mentally and a promising career ‘had been stolen from her’.
The judge also noted that having pleaded guilty the three had each denied the offences during meetings with Probation.
However a doctor was asked to assess the defendants who refuted PBNI assessments that there was a high risk of reoffending. The doctors findings were accepted by the Judge and it was noted the three probation officers ‘resiled’ their position.
As well as the jail and licence periods, the judge ordered all three to sign the sex offenders register “for an indefinite period” but she declined to make a Sexual Offences Prevention Order having heard that once freed, the trio are highly likely to be deported back to Romania.