Pregnant woman ‘drugged and raped’ in suspected trafficking campaign, court hears

A pregnant woman was allegedly drugged and raped repeatedly as part of a suspected campaign of trafficking three heroin addicts into prostitution, the High Court heard today.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 1:53 pm
Heroin paraphernalia
Heroin paraphernalia

Car salesman Oliver MacCormack, 68, is accused of forcing vulnerable victims aged as young as 17 into having sex with him and other men, with one claiming she was exploited while gagged and restrained.

Prosecutors also revealed that a further three potential victims have now been identified in a widening investigation which spans a four-year period.

Details emerged as MacCormack, of Barnfield Road in Lisburn, Co Antrim, was refused bail.

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He denies a total of 17 charges including rape, human trafficking, controlling prostitution, false imprisonment, aiding and abetting rape, being concerned in the supply of heroin and administering a substance with sexual intent.

The alleged offences were committed at locations across Belfast and Co Antrim over a period between March 2017 and April 2021.

Mr Justice O’Hara was told all three complainants are heroin addicts who claim they agreed to have sex with MacCormack in return for either drugs or money to feed their habit.

A Crown lawyer said one woman, aged 19, alleged on one occasion the defendant drove her to his friend’s house as part of their arrangement.

“She said she was handcuffed, a gag was put into her mouth, and this applicant and his friend had sex with her,” counsel submitted.

“While they were doing this, two further males entered the room and raped her while this applicant masturbated.”

In a separate alleged incident, the woman went to MacComack’s house while pregnant to inform him that she no longer wanted to work as a prostitute.

“She said he provided her with a drink of something, she doesn’t know what it was, but she passed out and over the course of the next two days he raped her repeatedly as she drifted in and out of consciousness,” the barrister added.

A second alleged victim provided a similar account of struggling to fund her addiction, stating that she agreed to have sex with MacCormack in return for £40.

He later arranged and drove her to appointments with other men, the prosecution contended, and either paid her in drugs or taking 60% of the money she received for sex and leaving her with a 40% cut to buy heroin.

The third complainant described starting to work as a prostitute when she was 17.

It was claimed that MacCormack had sex with her in exchange for heroin, as well as driving her to various addresses where she met other customers who paid him in cash.

He raped her twice and took her to a property on the understanding that she was going there to meet one man, she alleged.

“But whenever she arrived at the address she was forced to have sex with four men,” counsel said.

Arrested earlier this month, during seven police interviews MacCormack insisted the complaints were all fabricated.

Detectives were told he had previously helped vulnerable women by providing lifts, money and food without receiving anything in return for his “acts of kindness”, the court heard.

Opposing bail due to the risk of interference with the probe, the prosecutor disclosed: “This charge sheet is extensive, but it only relates to three victims. Three further victims have subsequently been identified.”

Defence barrister Danielle McMahon argued that MacCormack could be released to live at an address outside Belfast, with a £10,000 cash surety on offer.

She added: “He vigorously denies the offences and gave an account; it’s not a case where he has made no comment.”

Denying bail to MacCormack, however, Mr Justice O’Hara based his concerns on a suspected link to the supply of heroin.

“I will give police some more time to advance their investigations and complete interviews with anyone else who is outstanding.”