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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 June, 2005, 12:19 GMT 13:19 UK
Brothel madam spared prison term
Ann O'Brien
Ann O'Brien denied the charges
A woman thought to have made 1.6m by running a brothel from her London townhouse has been spared a jail term.

Ann O'Brien, who was found guilty of controlling prostitutes, was given 180 hours community service. She had already spent five months in jail.

The 32-year-old lived in the penthouse of her 1.25m Mayfair brothel and had 27 bank accounts traced by police.

She was told she would be stripped of her wealth - prosecutors are likely to seek 1.2m at a confiscation hearing.

'Enormously successful'

Southwark Crown Court heard O'Brien, who was born in Nairobi, left school to help her mother run a vegetable stall - her family bought her a plane ticket to the UK in 1995.

She moved to London where she re-invented herself as "Nancy" and began working as a prostitute, the court heard, earning enough money to buy her own brothel with a 487,000 cash deposit.

Prosecutor Jonathan Higgs told the trial it was an "enormously successful business", banking thousands of pounds a week.

She is thought to have run three shifts of prostitutes, with 15 girls on each shift. O'Brien employed women from all over the world and ran another brothel from a flat in Marylebone, central London, as well as an escort service, police said.

You lied throughout that trial and the jury found you guilty.
Judge John Price

Vice squad officers built their case by posing as customers and selecting a prostitute before making their excuses and leaving.

Whips, chains and other sex toys were found in the property's six double bedrooms.

There were also 200,000 "raunchy" telephone box cards and a catalogue filled with equipment to furnish a "dungeon", the court heard.

O'Brien denied the charges against her, saying she only provided an escort service and what "the girls" got up to in their own time was nothing to do with her.

But she was convicted of three charges of "controlling prostitutes" between October 10 2003 and April 15 2004.

Judge John Price told O'Brien: "You lied throughout that trial and the jury found you guilty.

"There were many girls involved and a great deal of money was made. You did very well out of it.

"The prosecution intend to take that away from you."


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