Page last updated at 14:01 GMT, Friday, 14 May 2010 15:01 UK

County Down man admits running Dublin brothel ring

Millennium Bridge Dublin

A County Down man who admitted running a brothel network in Dublin has been given a 30-month jail sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Mark McCormick, 26, of Ballaghbeg Park, Newcastle, was said to be "at the top of the ladder" in an organised prostitution ring.

He admitted acting or assisting in the management of six brothels between 6 November, 2005 and 3 April, 2006.

His ex-policeman father was convicted of organising prostitution in 2003.

The trial judge called the brothel ring an "operation of significant sophistication and detailed advanced planning".

He noted it was a "very profitable business" as demonstrated by a spreadsheet which showed profits of €220,000 to be split between three people.

No trafficking

He said McCormick used his computer knowledge to set up the brothel and "structured his part in the operation to remain as much as possible in the shadows".

The judge said it stood in the accused's favour that there was no human trafficking or abuse of women involved and that both customers and workers were willing participants.

He also took into account McCormick's late guilty plea and suspended the final 14 months of the sentence

A co-accused, Duane Killen (37) of Oldtown Road, Annalong, Newry, was given a suspended sentence last March for his role in renting Dublin apartments to be used as brothels.

A Garda detective said McCormick, who was just 22 at the time of the offences, was among the subjects of a major Garda investigation into the online advertisement of prostitution known as 'Operation Quest'.

He said that as part of their investigations Gardai raided a number of premises, including apartments on Bachelors Walk and in Herbert Park, and placed several people under surveillance, including McCormick.

'Nerve centre'

On March 8 2006, McCormick was brought to Store Street Garda station after he was observed having lunch with Killen and taking a brown envelope from him.

During an interview with McCormick, police obtained a key for an apartment at the Gasworks building on South Lotts Road, which the detective described as the "nerve centre" of the operation.

McCormick had previously been observed entering the building through an underground car park.

At the apartment police found a laptop computer logged on to an Irish escorts website.

The laptop contained a manual with instructions on how to run a brothel which was saved under the title "Bible".

The detective said the laptop also detailed a shopping list for items needed to run a brothel and contained several bogus references for Killen as well as spreadsheets detailing the names of prostitutes, and dates and amounts of cash received.

One spreadsheet indicated that takings of €25,000 were recorded for the month of January alone. Fingerprints found on the laptop matched those of McCormick.

The detective agreed that McCormick's plea of guilty saved the court proceeding with a trial which would have been of great complexity.

He also agreed that McCormick saved the brothel clientele from the considerable embarrassment of having to give evidence in court.

The police witness rejected the suggestion that McCormick's father, a former policeman, who was convicted of organising prostitution in 2003, was regarded by many of the prostitutes working in the brothels as the "owner".

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