A man who was jailed for 20 years for the “ultra-violent” rape of two sex workers on the same day in separate hotels has failed in a bid to have his conviction quashed and his sentence reduced on appeal.
Gheorghe Goidan (49), formerly of the Plaza Apartments, Tyrellstown, Dublin 15, but now a prisoner of Midlands Prison, had contacted the women via a sex workers website.
After arranging to meet them in hotel rooms, he pulled a knife and threatened them before repeatedly assaulting and raping both women in two separate attacks.
He had pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault at a hotel in Portlaoise on September 7th, 2017.
He had also denied rape, oral rape and anal rape of a second woman at the Maldron Hotel in Galway city on the same day.
But on May 14th, 2019, he was convicted after a jury of six men and six women at the Central Criminal Court returned guilty verdicts on all counts.
Sentencing Goidan to two consecutive terms of 10 years for each rape, Ms Justice Tara Burns described the offences as being “at the high end of the serious range”.
Goidan, who had pleaded guilty to robbing the two women, later launched appeals against both his conviction and sentence.
In papers submitted to the Court of Appeal, his lawyers argued that Ms Justice Burns erred in her ruling on the admissibility of evidence given by one of the complainants via videolink.
It was further argued the judge erred in refusing a request from the defence to sever the indictment, which resulted in the appellant facing a trial in respect of two separate complainants.
But in an ex tempore judgment delivered on Thursday by Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy – sitting with Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy – the grounds for appeal against conviction were dismissed.
“We can conclude that the judge exercised her discretion properly,” he said.
Goidan’s appeal against sentence was similarly dismissed, with Mr Justice McCarthy noting that the discount applied by the trial judge in respect of the consecutive sentences had been “entirely appropriate”.
“We therefore reject the appeal against sentence,” he said.
At an appeal hearing earlier this week, Patrick Gageby SC, for the appellant, said Ms Justice Burns had identified a headline sentence of 17 years for the sexual offence when a term between “10 and 15 years” would have been more appropriate.
“10 plus 10, in my respectful submission, is disproportionate,” he said.
Mr Gageby also told the court he believed the trial judge had given insufficient weight to the fact that his client had no previous convictions “of consequence”.
‘Premeditated and ultra-violent’
Shane Costelloe SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, told the court that both the conviction and sentence should stand.
He said the sentence imposed was “entirely correct” when the “level of violence and humiliation both women experienced” was considered.
He said the offences had been “premeditated, well-planned and ultra-violent” and that Goidan had told his victims he knew where to find them if they didn’t “get out of the country” after he raped and robbed them.
“A knife was put to their faces, and they were threatened in their own language,” Mr Costelloe said.
“This was a man who used a website to identify vulnerable people, to rob them and inflict violence on them,” he continued.
“On another day, with another judge, this man could have easily got 17 plus 17.”
At the July 2019 sentence hearing, Ms Justice Burns said it was “a sad reality of their lives” that due to the “secrecy of which their occupation has to be conducted” neither of the women – who had moved to Ireland from abroad to work as sex workers – were able to seek comfort from family or friends following the rapes.
The judge said Goidan, a Romanian national who had one previous conviction from Britain in relation to possession of a false passport, had preyed upon the vulnerability of the two women and had clearly targeted them because he thought they would not be believed.
“He clearly thought they were mere dirt to rob and steal from. They are not,” the judge said before adding that the women were “extremely impressive” and gave evidence during trial in “the most dignified manner”.
The judge said the details of the rapes “are vicious and shocking” and said these vulnerable women were put through “an awful and horrific ordeal”.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.