Ugly Mugs will be speaking at the Commercial Sex Research Network Ireland Symposium at Queen’s University Belfast on 3rd-4th March 2016. The full programme is available here here.
The following is the result of a news archive search for all Republic of Ireland rape or sexual assault cases (including attempted rape or sexual assault) reported in the media from 1996 to 2015 where the victim was reported to be a sex worker.
1996 - Thomas Gerard Stokes was found guilty of falsely imprisoning, raping and sexually assaulting a sex worker following a 16 day trial. The jury returned majority 10-2 verdicts on the charges. The victim had been picked up by Stokes and another man and driven to the Wicklow Mountains where the offences took place. Justice Michael Moriarty sentenced Stokes to life in prison.
1997 - Meho Slavotic was found guilty by a 10-2 majority verdict of the oral rape of a sex worker who he had picked up by taxi and taken to his home in Dublin in 1995. He was found not guilty of two further charges of raping the woman on the same occasion. Justice Hugh Geoghegan sentenced Slavotic to 5 years in prison.
1998 - Patrick Quinn pleaded guilty to the oral rape of a sex worker in Dublin the previous year. Justice Paul Carney praised the Gardaí for "handling the case in a non-judgmental manner that accorded the prostitute her full constitutional rights." Quinn was initially sentenced to 5 years in jail, but the following week his sentence was suspended after he paid the victim £10,000 compensation.
1998 - Robert Melia pleaded guilty to 4 attacks on women in 1997. He had falsely imprisoned 4 women, and carried out aggravated sexual assault on 3 of them. There were also charges of assault causing harm, having a knife with intent to cause injury and robbery. 3 of the 4 victims were sex workers. Justice Paul Carney sentenced Melia to 9 years in prison. The DPP successfully appealed that this was unduly lenient and it was increased to 12 years.
1999 - Adrian Power was found guilty, following a 5 day trial, of falsely imprisoning and orally raping a sex worker in the Wicklow Mountains in 1994. The jury took under 90 minutes to return unanimous verdicts on both charges. His accomplice here, Thomas Gerard Stokes, had already been convicted in 1996. Power was sentenced to 10 years in jail.
1999 - Thomas Kidd pleaded guilty to raping 4 sex workers in Dublin in 1997. 3 of the offences involved oral rape and 1 vaginal rape. Sentencing Kidd to 7 years in jail Justice Paul Carney commended the Gardaí saying they had "an impressive record in vindicating the personal rights of prostitutes and did so in a non-judgmental fashion."
1999 - William Robinson was found not-guilty of rape and sexual assault but guilty of robbery of a sex worker in Dublin in 1997 after a 4 day trial. The jury took 2.5 hours to return its unanimous verdict. Justice Catherine McGuinness sentenced Robinson to 1 year in jail.
1999 - Simon McDonnell pleaded guilty to 2 charges of raping a sex worker in Dublin in 1997. Justice Paul Carney sentenced McDonnell to 7 years in jail, considering it an aggravating factor that he had asked the woman "How does it feel to have AIDs?" after the rape and buggery.
1999 - Brian Fergus Molloy pleaded guilty to the rape of a sex worker in Dublin on a date in December 1997 or January 1998. Molloy had told the victim he was an off-duty garda (police officer) and that "all the prostitutes in the area gave him free sex". Justice Paul Carney sentenced him to 5 years in jail.
1999 - Aidan Byrne was sentenced in June 1999 to five years in prison for raping 2 sex workers.
2000 - Gerard Kelly pleaded guilty to raping two separate sex workers on 2 separate dates in Dublin in 1998. Justice Paul Carney sentenced him to 7 years in jail.
2001 - A 32-year-old security worker pleaded not guilty to 7 charges concerning offences against two sex workers in Dublin in 1998. It was charged that he raped, orally raped and assaulted both women and had further anally raped one of them. The jury in the trial was discharged following the revelation of evidence which was not disclosed to accused's defence team. (This man later plead guilty prior to a new trial.)
2002 - A 29 year old road digger denied raping and falsely imprisoning a sex worker in Dublin in 2000. The verdict was not reported, and it is presumed he was not convicted.
2002 - A 38 year old Romanian asylum-seeker was found not guilty of falsely imprisoning and raping a sex worker at his flat in Dublin in 2001.
2002 - Michael Joyce pleaded guilty to the rape and oral rape of a sex worker in Dublin in 2000. The court heard Joyce's cousin was also involved in the attack. Justice Paul Carney sentenced him to 5 years in jail.
2002 - David Power pleaded guilty to an aggravated sexual assault on a sex worker in Cork in 2000. Justice Paul Carney sentenced him to 3 years in jail.
2003 - Three Romanian men went on trial accused of rape, oral rape, and false imprisonment of a sex worker in Dublin in 2000. Additionally one of the men was accused of robbery. It was reported that at one point whilst being cross-examined the victim threatened to slap leading barrister George Birmingham SC if he didn't "stop being so cocky" saying the incidents happened 3 years ago and she was "distraught, frightened and tired" when she had spoken to gardaí and medical people. Justice Barry White directed the Jury to find the men not guilty due to weaknesses, inconsistencies and contradictions in the victim's evidence.
2003 - Trevor Scobie, an ex-RUC officer (police officer), pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a sex worker in Dublin in 1999 minutes before his trial for rape was due to begin. He had originally been charged with rape, assault causing harm and robbery. A jury had failed to agree on the rape charge after a 5 day trial earlier in the year, but found him guilty of the assault and not guilty of robbery, and he was sentenced to 3 years in jail. Justice Paul Butler sentenced Scobie to 3 years in jail for the sexual assault, to run concurrently with the sentence he was already serving.
2003 - Thomas Dowling pleaded guilty to the rape of two sex workers, in two separate attacks on the same night in 1998. He pleaded guilty to 5 counts of rape and 2 of assault causing harm. He had gone on trial in 2001 for these offences but the case had collapsed following the revelation that evidence had not been disclosed to his defence team prior to the trial. He was due to go on trial again in 2004 before the guilty plea. Justice Paul Carney sentenced him to 8 years in jail.
2003 - Patrick McDonagh pleaded guilty to the rape and oral rape of a sex worker in Dublin in 2000. The court heard his cousin Michael Joyce had already been sentenced to 5 years in jail for his part in the attack. Justice Paul Carney sentenced McDonagh to 7 years in jail.
2004 - Stephen Doherty was found guilty of false imprisonment, rape, oral rape and threatening to kill a sex worker in Dublin in 2000. The jury acquitted him of anal rape after 2.5 hours of deliberation. Commenting on how the accused had admitted in his own evidence approaching the sex worker without any money in his pocket Justice Paul Carney said "It is well-known all over the world that prostitutes do not do business on credit". He sentenced Doherty to 10 years in jail.
2005 - Maurice Sugrue pleaded guilty to assault and sexual assault of a sex worker in Dublin in 2003. He paid €10,000 to the victim as compensation. Judge Yvonne Murphy also imposed a 9 month jail sentence.
2007 - Martin Stafford pleaded guilty to raping a sex worker in Dublin in 2005. Justice Paul Carney gave him a nine-year jail sentence. The DPP appealed but it was found not unduly lenient.
2008 - Billy Keogh was convicted of raping an escort / sex worker in a hotel in Waterford in 2006 after a 6 day trial. The jury returned a 10-2 majority guilty verdict following about six hours of deliberation and after one night in a hotel. Keogh was found not guilty of theft on the same occasion. The court heard Keogh had told the victim he was a Garda (police officer). The victim rejected a €30,000 compensation offer by Keogh. Justice Barry White sentenced Keogh to 5 years in prison, but suspended the last 3 years. Judge White was criticised in the media for both the leniency of the sentence and referring to Keogh as a "man of good character". A DPP appeal against the leniency of the sentence was dismissed.
2008 - A 35 year old Lithuanian man was found not guilty of raping and attempting to anally rape a sex worker in Dublin in 2006. The jury acquitted him after more than four hours of deliberation. The jury heard that after the accused paid the woman €200 she put a condom on him but discovered after they had been having sex for some minutes that he was no longer wearing it. The woman alleged that the accused continued to have sex with her when she asked him to stop.
2010 - Robert Boruncinski pleaded guilty to oral rape of a sex worker in Dublin in 2009. He also pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and burglary. The court heard Boruncinski and an accomplice had attacked the sex worker and her colleague who were working together as escorts in an apartment. Boruncinski received a 10-year sentence with the final three years suspended from Justice Paul Carney.
2011 - A 40-year-old Dublin man pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment, oral rape, rape, sexual assault with a mobile phone, sexual assault with the threat of violence and threats to kills a sex worker in Dublin in 2009. The verdict was not reported, and it is presumed he was not convicted.
2012 - Paul Rooney pleaded guilty to the attempted rape of an escort in 2010. The court heard that he had held a knife to the victim's throat, but she struggled and managed to get away. He pleaded guilty the day the trial was due to begin. Justice Paul Carney initially imposed a prison sentence of seven years – two years suspended – but on hearing that compensation has been paid he reduced this to four years, two suspended.
2015 - A 40 year old Kerry man was found not guilty of raping and sexually assaulting a sex worker in Dublin in 2010 following a 6 day trial. However he was found him guilty of two counts of threatening or putting in fear a witness in a garda investigation in relation to attempts he made to get the victim to withdraw the rape complaint. The jury took just over two hours of deliberations to return the unanimous verdicts. Justice Patrick McCarthy sentenced him to three years in jail with the last 18 months suspended.
683 criminal incidents reported to UglyMugs.ie in 2015
UglyMugs.ie was looking forward to having a display stand at FEMPOWER this Saturday in Dublin.
That was until today, when a generic email was received from the “Fempower organising committee” saying "we are unable to facilitate your organisations at the Fempower activist fair in Tallaght Stadium”. (The reason given was “health and safety”, they couldn’t accommodate due to the unexpected popularity of the event.)
FEMPOWER is a “Feminist Conference & Activist Fair. Organised by feminist theologian, Independent Senator and current General Election candidate Katherine Zappone. She describes it as “an opportunity for women of all ages and backgrounds to come together to help tackle the most important issues affecting women in Ireland today”. It was first advertised on Facebook on 18th December 2015 with limited numbers of participant and display stand tickets available via Eventbrite.
On the 19th December I registered to have a display stand on Eventbrite, I further sent a personal email to the organisers through Eventbrite and posted on the FEMPOWER Facebook page thanking Senator Zappone for putting on this free event and on a Saturday (If, like me, you are just one person doing what you can, rather than a funded organisation, free and weekend events are often all you can do.).
UglyMugs.ie was hardly planning a big display stand. It was just going to be me. I had hand-sewn a small “end violence against sex workers” table runner over Christmas and prepared a folder of A4 print outs about crime against sex workers in Ireland in 2015. The headline on the print outs was that in 2015 sex workers reported 683 criminal incidents to UglyMugs.ie.
I thought UglyMugs.ie was on topic for FEMPOWER. Just last week I listened to Senator Zappone telling Newstalk 106 - 108fm that reducing violence against women is one of the themes of the event. I knew the event was fully booked at that stage. That had been announced on 28th December on the Facebook page and Eventbrite switched to showing the event as sold out on that date also. But I didn’t request a display stand after 28th December, I made my request on 19th December, the day after the event was first advertised, nine days before it was sold out. So quite why I’ve received an email three days before the event telling me I can’t be there I don’t know?
I am highlighting this because it isn’t a one off. UglyMugs.ie has been excluded from many events, most importantly I feel the Justice Committee hearings on prostitution legislation. This Committee, which Senator Zappone sat on, heard from all sorts of organisations that don’t actually work with sex workers but have opinions on sex work, like the National Women’s Council of Ireland and the Irish Feminist Network. Numerous Magdalene order religious sisters were also heard. But not UglyMugs.ie. There was no invitation for me. And following the recommendation of the Committee’s report - further criminalisation of sex work - new laws are currently being pushed through despite overwhelming evidence that they will increase violence against sex workers. Tomorrow, Senator Zappone will presumably be in the Seanad supporting the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 which is in the Order of Business for 12.45 p.m.
This conference is named "FEMPOWER" and I think perhaps that’s very apt, given how we appear to have a ruling class of feminists in Ireland, with an agreed agenda which includes denying sex workers human rights including the right to safety, and, if like UglyMugs.ie, you don't go along with their agenda, they seek to have you excluded, and they are usually successful. Well FEMPOWER can exclude UglyMugs.ie from their event on "health and safety" grounds, but sex workers in Ireland are going to continue to help each other stay safe no matter how hard so called feminists work to erase their rights and how many anti sex work laws are passed. And UglyMugs.ie is proud to be one means of facilitating sex workers sharing safety information with each other.
At this time UglyMugs.ie would like to remind the media that our ugly mug scheme is private and only available to sex workers.
The violation of the privacy of our ugly mug scheme by media who have gained access via posing as sex worker victims of crime or any other means is unacceptable.
Any disclosure of confidential sex worker only safety information by the media puts people selling sexual services in Ireland at risk and is highly irresponsible. UglyMugs.ie will take all action possible to prevent media violating the privacy of our ugly mug scheme.
The private pain of people selling sexual services who have been a victim of crime is not entertainment for the masses. It is unacceptable for any media to obtain ugly mug scheme data unethically and use it without the consent of UglyMugs.ie or the victims of crime.
The Northern Irish Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) recently issued a public consultation entitled ‘Leaving Prostitution: a strategy for help and support’.
This consultation is a result of Section 19 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 which requires the DHSSPS to publish a Strategy that will outline the actions to be taken to ensure that a Programme of Assistance and Support (PAS) is in place for people who wish to leave sex work.
The consultation consultation document and response questionnaire are available at:
The closing date for responses is Friday 23 October 2015.
UglyMugs.ie will be responding to this consultation in due course.
We are also publishing today a document entitled Submission to Department of Health which we sent to the DHSSPS on 20th April 2015. This was not in response to any consultation, rather we just wanted to make a brief submission to the DHSSPS with some of our initial concerns before they even issued a consultation.
Response by UglyMugs.ie to Department of Justice Draft Northern Ireland Human Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy for 2015/16.
Response by UglyMugs.ie to AHTU (Anti Human Trafficking Unit) re Draft Second National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking in Ireland 2015.
This week Ireland’s Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, confirmed yet again that she has no plans to decriminalise persons who sell sex.
The laws that criminalise sex workers in Ireland create conditions where it is all too easy for people to abuse sex workers. We know this abuse is going on. In the last year sex workers have reported 691 criminal incidents to UglyMugs.ie (603 in the Republic of Ireland and 88 in Northern Ireland).
The main way sex workers are criminalised in Ireland is via the “brothel keeping” laws which are perversely used to prosecute sex workers. Not only do these laws prevent sex worker victims of crime accessing justice, they also give the Gardaí (police) huge power over sex workers, power that can be abused.
In December 2012 it was reported in the media that a sex worker had complained to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) that she had been raped by a garda officer following a so called “brothel raid”. This was incidentally the first time a garda officer had ever been arrested by GSOC. Since December 2012 there appears to have been no further news of this case. But I made a request to GSOC for a summary of the case in December 2014 and yesterday I received the following:
A woman made a complaint to the Garda Ombudsman alleging rape by a member of the Garda Síochána. A second woman made a complaint as a direct witness of the alleged behaviour.
A criminal investigation was undertaken by a Garda Ombudsman investigator* and the file was referred to the DPP. No prosecution was directed.
A disciplinary case** with regard to possible abuse of authority, corrupt or improper practice and discreditable conduct was subsequently opened by the Garda Ombudsman.
The investigation, carried out by a GSOC senior investigating officer, involved taking statements from the two women and from the garda concerned. The first complainant’s statement said that she felt compelled to have sexual intercourse with the garda concerned because he was a member of An Garda Síochána involved in a prosecution which led to her conviction for an offence under s.11 of the Criminal Law Sexual Offences Act 1993 and she feared further prosecution. Evidence showed that the garda had been involved in the prosecution of the two women. The garda’s statement said that the sexual intercourse had occurred subsequent to the arrest, but that it was consensual. The records of duty relevant to the garda were contradictory as regards his actual hours of duty, so it was unclear whether he was on- or off-duty at the time of the act.
A report summarising the above findings of the investigation and making a recommendation was issued to Garda Authorities. A breach of discipline was found by Garda Authorities and a sanction applied.
*Pursuant to s.98 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
**Pursuant to s.95 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
This is I think an outrageous outcome. The garda officer got a slap on the wrist from his bosses. The woman was prosecuted and convicted of brothel keeping. There is no justice here.
Some similar cases have been reported in the UK in recent years, but all with very different outcomes. For example the 2012 case of PC Jasbir Dhanda in Derby, England. His shame is public. He was prosecuted and jailed for 2 and a half years. He lost his job of course. He also lost 40% of his pension.
Is it any surprise in the circumstances that exist in Ireland that many sex workers are being targeted by criminals and few feel able to seek justice when they are a victim of crime?
A new survey of 86 sex workers in Ireland by UglyMugs.ie. The full report, Opinions and Experiences of the Police, Irish Sex Worker Survey 2015, can be downloaded at:
Last week many sex workers learnt for the first time of REACH, what appeared to be a new support organisation for sex workers in Ireland. REACH isn’t actually new, but it only came to mass attention last week when it launched a new high profile all island advertising campaign.
I first heard of REACH a year ago. I wrote to the EU in March 2014 requesting information about the project. However the EU replied that they had no record of REACH. Last month I wrote to the EU again, asking them to check their records once more, and today I received a reply confirming that they did award the REACH project a grant of €284.302 in November 2013. The EU say the REACH project began in December 2013 and is set to last 2 years. The beneficiaries are the Irish Department of Justice and Equality and Ruhama. Associate partners are the Northern Irish Department of Justice and the Irish Health Service Executive and Child and Family Support Agency.
I’ve spoken to a number of sex workers about REACH since the REACH advertising campaign launched.
One sex worker told me she contacted REACH seeking assistance last week by email. Yesterday she got a reply by email stating that she’d need to telephone instead. Another sex worker who contacted REACH last week told me she did get a swifter response. She’d asked for help re housing, problems she was having with her landlord. However the response she got offered no help, just a suggestion that she contact a housing charity instead. Another sex worker who asked about safety support got a response suggesting she visit the REACH or Ruhama websites, and, very surprisingly to me, it was also suggested she visit UglyMugs.ie. I’ve never before had a sex worker tell me Ruhama has recommended UglyMugs.ie to her, but that is what she reported to me. A further sex worker told me she was just advised to read the REACH and Ruhama websites for advice.
The above four sex workers all contacted REACH in the Republic of Ireland. Sex workers in Northern Ireland told me that it was actually impossible to contact REACH in Northern Ireland, both the phone number and email address did not work. I checked the phone number myself and asked others to check it too and can confirm texting REACH to 0808 802 1414 does not work, this phone number is set up to reject all SMS messages.
So what is REACH? It doesn’t appear to be able to offer any support to sex workers North or South. It seems it is just yet more public money into the coffers of anti sex work campaigners. I expect most of the €284.302 is going to Ireland's greediest anti sex work organisation of them all, Ruhama.