Judge suspends jail terms in brothel case
THREE WOMEN arrested in a major cross-Border offensive against prostitution pleaded guilty yesterday to running a brothel in Belfast.
The trio, all Polish nationals, each received suspended two- month prison sentences for the offence and another charge of possessing criminal property. Sandra Polewska and Milena Tarnowska (both 23), and Marta Kozakowska (27), were detained during a raid in Northern Ireland on Tuesday.
Kozakowska admitted a third offence of obstructing police by swallowing a mobile phone Sim card when police entered an apartment. Belfast Magistrates Court heard the women were the only individuals involved in a brothel based at Alfred Street in the city. Prosecutors said officers seized large amounts of cash, sexual items, condoms and six mobile phones at the property.
Polewska claimed to be a student who had visited Northern Ireland six or seven times to work as a prostitute, advertising her services on an escort website. Tarnowska told police she arrived for “fun and socialising” during a two-week stay before returning to get married in Poland.
The court heard she claimed to have danced and provided massages for men, but denied offering sexual services.
Kozakowska had dismantled one of the phones and removed the Sim card once police broke in. District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told she swallowed it in an attempt to protect her clients and herself.
Kozakowska, who had been in Northern Ireland since last November, admitted to providing sexual services. All three accused wanted to return to their native country, the court heard.
It was stressed that human trafficking did not feature in this case.
Judge Bagnall accepted there were no allegations of exploitation and gave the women credit for pleading guilty to brothel-keeping and possessing criminal property.
Separately, two other women arrested in the North during Tuesday’s joint operation, which saw the PSNI and Garda raid about 140 brothels on both sides of the Border, were released on bail pending further inquiries.
In the Republic, one woman was remanded in custody, having appeared before Dún Laoghaire District Court yesterday charged under section 9 of the Criminal Justice Act. Another woman and a man were released without charge. Files are being prepared for the DPP.
Denise Charlton, chief executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said the size of the operation showed how those behind this “sleazy trade have used a legal loophole to reach into every part of our country . . . We want to see the Government act by making it illegal to pay for sex. It is this discrepancy in Irish law which has allowed the brothels to flourish and brought human rights abuses to our communities.”