Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Bail for former police officer accused of trafficking prostitutes

A former police officer accused of people trafficking and controlling prostitutes has been banned from leaving Northern Ireland.

Simon Dempsey (39) was also ordered to surrender his passport and lodge a cash surety as part of the conditions under which he was granted bail.

Dempsey, of East Street, Newtownards, is alleged to have been a central figure in a Chinese vice ring operating in Belfast and Londonderry.

The ex-PSNI officer, who worked in Iraq for a Dubai-based security firm after quitting the force in 2004, was arrested as part of a UK-wide offensive targeting those bringing foreign women to work within the sex trade.

He and his co-accused, Chinese woman Chen Rong (32), of Crestwood Avenue, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, are each charged with human trafficking in the UK for sexual exploitation and controlling prostitution.

Prosecutors claim victims who answered advertisements for jobs as nannies or receptionists were paid as little as £20 a week after travelling across from Britain.

A bank account allegedly linked to the racket was said to have had a turnover of millions of pounds.

During an earlier court hearing it was claimed that Dempsey was stopped at the Stena HSS Port in Belfast with two Chinese women in May. According to the prosecution, he would also visit the brothels to collect takings, deliver food and towels and bank the proceeds.

He was refused bail at first due to a possible risk of interference with the police investigation and concerns about fleeing Northern Ireland. The former police officer was said to have overseas contacts and property in Portugal.

However, Crown lawyer Sheena Mahaffey yesterday told the High Court in Belfast that detectives may only have to interview one more possible witness.

She added: “The investigation is ongoing in relation to tracing financial assets.”

Defence barrister Richard McConkey confirmed Dempsey was prepared to live with his parents outside Newtownards.

Granting bail, Lord Justice Coghlin said the risk of interference with the inquiry had reduced. He said: “I can understand the police concerns about him leaving the jurisdiction but it seems to me that should be capable of being managed by a number of very tight conditions.”

As well as ordering Dempsey to stay at his parents house, the judge directed that a £1,500 cash surety had to be lodged before he could be released.

Lord Justice Coghlin added: “He must surrender his passport, he is not to leave Northern Ireland under any circumstances and must report to police twice a day.”

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