Brothel beast | 

Baby-faced thug used extreme violence and terror tactics to 'tax' sex workers

In one case a woman was stripped naked and in another a woman was threatened with having her throat cut.
Samuel Pop at Roscommon Court this week.

Samuel Pop at Roscommon Court this week.

Exclusive by Eamon Dillon

This is the baby-faced gang member who used extreme violence and terror tactics to 'tax' prostitutes and force them to hand over cash.

Using knives, strangulation and brute force, a trio of Romanian nationals embarked on a crime spree across Ireland, targeting vulnerable prostitutes.

This week Samuel Pop was jailed for his part in the brutal reign of terror in 2019, but blamed his deceased co-accused Andre Tiganasu for the worst of the violence.

Tiganasu died as a result of a suspected heart attack in Castlerea Prison last year where he was serving a five-year sentence for one of the robberies.

A third man, Ioan Galben, has been convicted over two of the raids.

Ioan Galben was jailed for two of the robberies.

Ioan Galben was jailed for two of the robberies.

The women and men targeted by the gang suffered extreme violence, including being punched, kicked on the ground, strangled with earphones, held at knifepoint and told they would be killed.

In one case a woman was stripped naked and in another a woman was threatened with having her throat cut.

The gang's activities in October and November 2019 quickly gained the attention of the gardai who acted on the complaints made by the gang's victims.

After his arrest, Galben told gardai he had been "brainwashed" by a gang to collect money they claimed they were owed by people working as prostitutes.

The attacks left the gang's victims deeply traumatised and they feared they would be targeted again.

Two Brazilian victims were too scared to give an impact statement against their attackers, it emerged at a court hearing in Roscommon.

They had been held at knifepoint and battered in a terrifying ordeal in which cash, phones and jewellery were stolen.

Also taken was a laptop and a passport which the victims feared could be used by the gang to later track them down.

Pop (24) made a call to book an appointment with a prostitute on October 28, 2019 via an advert on the Escort Ireland website.

When the woman answered the door, Pop's two accomplices pushed their way in, one of them putting his hand over her mouth.

Her male colleague, who had been asleep, emerged to see the two men - one armed with a knife - before being pushed back on to his bed.

The woman was punched in the cheek, jaw and mouth as one of the men shouted at her, demanding money.

The knife was jabbed towards her as the gang spent 15 minutes searching the apartment. At one point Pop entered the room and was given the knife.

Carpets were pulled up and the apartment left in disarray before the gang left the terrorised pair.

Incredibly, the gang had arrived in Roscommon from their Dublin addresses in a black Skoda Superb registered in Pop's name.

When the car wouldn't start after the robbery the men were collected by another person driving an Audi A8.

The next day when Pop arrived back in the town to collect his car he was spotted by chance by the two Brazilians who had just emerged from their property.

They reported what they knew to gardai who passed on the details to Operation Quest, which is now the Organised Prostitution Investigation Unit.

This included CCTV images gleaned from cameras in the area.

On 6 November Pop and Tiganasu struck again, targeting a prostitute working from a room in a Clayton Hotel in Dublin 4.

Details of the attack emerged at a hearing in Dublin Circuit Court this week where Pop admitted to charges of false imprisonment and robbery.

The Czech woman, who had only arrived in Ireland two days previously, was pushed to the wall by Pop after he had knocked on her door.

He then let Tiganasu into the room and Tiganasu held a knife to the woman's back before she was pinned to the bed and punched in the face.

She showed them €800 hidden in a book which they took along with her phone and passport, but Tiganasu told her they needed more money or they would kill her.

He then tied her earphones around her neck and started hitting her head off the wall while saying he would kill her if she did not give him the code to the hotel safe.

As she was crying on the floor Tiganasu took her clothes off after she had refused to do so.

Pop then said she could get dressed again and tied her hands behind her back with a phone charger.

As they were leaving, Tiganasu told her it was not the end and they would send somebody up to kill her.

Gardai were called when she got the attention of other hotel guests by knocking against a partition separating her room from another.

Time was running out for the gang when they were stopped by gardai in Pop's black Skoda on Dorset Street on November 10, and he was noted down as one of the occupants.

On November 12 two prostitutes working from a flat in Dublin's Parnell Street became the next targets.

Ioan Galben and Tiganasu would later both be convicted of this raid during which one of the women was threatened with having her throat cut.

Galben told the women to be quiet during the burglary or they would be killed.

The two women had already been liaising with gardai as part of a safeguarding scheme in the inner city, and reported the robbery.

A week later the men's addresses were raided by gardai who arrested them and recovered some of the stolen phones and electronics.

It brought an end to the short but terrifying crime spree.

Galben received a five-year sentences for the Roscommon and Parnell Street robberies.

Pop got four years for the Clayton Hotel robbery and a 20-month suspended sentence over the Roscommon raid.

Tiganasu died in Castlerea Prison last summer where he had been serving five years for Roscommon robbery, and had been awaiting trial over the Clayton Hotel raid.

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