Manager of brothel turning over €4m per year is jailed

A Kildare woman who managed a city centre brothel which had an estimated annual turnover of €4 m has been jailed for one year by Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Deena Edridge of Wentworth Place, Naas, pleaded guilty to allowing an apartment she had rented on Bachelor's Walk, Dublin to be used as a brothel on dates between August 22, 2005 and October 10, 2005

She also pleaded guilty to organising prostitution and controlling the activities of more than one prostitute for that purpose between the same dates.

The 28-year-old former prostitute was paid a salary of €50,000 to act as a "manager", greeting customers, lining up the girls to allow customers to choose one, handling finances and managing an off-site "call centre".

Judge Katherine Delahunt told Edridge: "You are in many ways a victim and fell into an illegal trade because of abandonment by your father."

She noted however that Edridge was a "major player who had a significant and trusted role in running the business" and imposed two twelve month sentences, to run concurrently.

Detective Sergeant Seamus Holohan told Mr Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting, that he had been part of a garda investigation, named "Operation Quest", into prostitution and brothel keeping in Dublin.

Det. Sgt Holohan said they mounted a surveillance operation on the premises at Bachelor's Walk for a number of months and established that it was being run as a brothel, seven days a week in a day shift from 12am to 7pm, and an evening shift from 7pm to 5am with five to seven girls working at any time from a total of 16 girls.

Customers were charged €130 per half hour and €220 per hour for sexual intercourse and other activities. There was also a "call out service" where customers could order girls to a hotel room or to their own home.

Det. Sgt Holohan said the business was advertised through web sites and magazines under the guise of 17 different escort agencies.

Customers rang the mobile phone number in the advertisement and were directed to the brothel. All the mobiles were "prepay" or "ready to go" numbers across all networks which could not be traced.

Det. Sgt Holohan told Mr Foley that when the premises was searched on October 10, 2005, four girls were found working as prostitutes along with one male customer. Edridge and an accomplice were also present.

He said Edridge’s male accomplice was the more senior of the two with Edridge acting as the manager for a salary of €50,000 a year. She was responsible for stocking the premises, hiring girls, letting in customers, lining up the girls to allow a customer to choose and deducting money from girls’ takings.

Det. Sgt Holohan said the girls gave half of their takings to the brothel, along with additional deductions of €15 for working the day shift and €25 for working the night shift.

He said Edridge had rented the apartment under a false name but had never lived there, using it solely as a brothel. He said "meticulous records" had been kept in the brothel detailing the number of girls working on any day, the number of customers, duration of their stay and how much money had been paid over.

These records allowed gardaí to quantify the brothel’s turnover. He estimated that takings over the four shifts prior to the garda search had been €22,000 and the annual takings were thought to be about €4m.

Det Sgt Holohan said that 35 mobile phones had been found during a search of another premises at Beresford House in the IFSC which operated as a "call centre" for Bachelor’s Walk. He said 32 of these were switched on and being answered by two women employed as "receptionists", directing customers to the brothel.

Det. Sgt Holohan described the prostitution industry as "extremely reliant on mobile phones" and said within two days 14 numbers used by the seized phones were back up and running.

Ms Marie Torrens BL, defending Edridge, said that her client was originally from the UK and had come to Ireland five years ago. She said her client had suffered greatly as a child as a result of her parents’ divorce.

She said both parents had subsequently remarried and Edridge’s father "threw money" at her, allowing her to "live a high life style" until she was 18 and at which point the financial aid ceased, leaving her with a number of credit card debts.

She attempted to take out a loan but got into debt again and answered an advertisement in a newspaper to work as a prostitute.

Ms Torrens said Edridge had been robbed and had a number of frightening experiences working as a prostitute. She was initially employed to answer the phones for the business but took full responsibility for the offences with which she was charged.

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