Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Thursday, 4 February 2010

Pembrokeshire based couple ran Irish prostitute ring


Thomas Carroll and his wife and daughter operated a multi-million pound prostitution ring from a former vicarage in Pembrokeshire

A couple have been jailed for running a "lucrative" prostitute ring in Northern Ireland and Ireland from Pembrokeshire.

Young women arriving from south America and Africa believed they would be given work as hairdressers.

Thomas Carroll, 48, was jailed for seven years and his wife Shamiela Clark, 32, to three-and-half-years at Cardiff Crown Court.

They admitted prostitution and money laundering offences. Carroll's daughter Toma, 26, got two years for laundering.

In just one year, the profits amounted to more than one million euros (£873,000) for the couple who ran the business from an old vicarage in the village of Castlemartin the court was told.

Shamiela Clark
Shamiela Clark would phone the prostitutes and tell them the rules of the brothel.

Clark, who went by the name of Carmen, ran a "call centre" where she co-ordinated the brothels and took calls from clients, organised accommodation and placed adverts in newspapers, the court heard.

Robert Davies, prosecuting, said the business used foreign sex workers "so they would not have homes to go to at night".

Most of the young women and girls, one aged just 15, came from south America and Nigeria, with many not knowing they would have to work as prostitutes to pay off the huge debts they were told they owed their traffickers.

Women from Nigeria underwent "terrifying and humiliating" rituals involving menstrual blood, killing chickens and being pushed into a coffin "to put the fear of death in them", Judge Neil Bidder was told.

When many women, who were not trafficked by the defendants, arrived at different locations around Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, they believed they would find work as hairdressers or seamstresses.

Instead they were sent to a rented apartment and put to work as prostitutes, Mr Davies said.

Accounts are disturbing and force the conclusion that most of the women were driven to it by desperate personal circumstances
Robert Davies, prosecuting

The 15-year-old girl was handed condoms, lingerie and a tube of cream and left to await instructions.

The women were telephoned by Clark who would tell them when to expect their first client. She also told them the rates and the rules of the brothel.

"They were cynically catapulted into a miserable existence and exploited," Mr Davies said.

"They must have felt highly disorientated and frightened by their new life working as a working girl, particularly given the regime that was operating."

Other prostitutes were recruited through advertisements on the internet and in newspapers, the court was told.

Mr Davies said: "Women were forced to move between apartments, being run as brothels, on either side of the Irish border.

'Forceful man'

"Accounts are disturbing and force the conclusion that most of the women were driven to it by desperate personal circumstances or coerced by threats from others into selling themselves."

The court heard Carroll and Clark moved their "headquarters" to Pembrokeshire after the Garda uncovered the prostitution ring running in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Judge Bidder QC described Carroll as a "determined and forceful man" and said the strength of the evidence against him was "overwhelming".

He rejected assertions from Clark's barrister that she was a mere receptionist for the business and instead said she was "a second in command. Much more than a mere receptionist".

Addressing Carroll's daughter, who was a fourth year law student when she was arrested, he said: "You are intelligent and capable and should have followed your career in law.

"It was to a great extent your father's fault you are where you are," but added she could not shrug off all responsibility for her actions.

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