Alleged vice boss ‘worked as prostitute’
The alleged head of a major vice ring in Northern Ireland was herself a brothel worker who slept on a sofa, the High Court has heard.
Lawyers for Rong Chen rejected any claims by her former police officer co-accused that she duped him into being part of a racket with an alleged annual turnover of millions of pounds.
Chen (34), of Kidderminster in Worcestershire, has been charged with people trafficking and controlling prostitutes following a UK-wide operation against the illegal sex trade. She is alleged to have recruited women by placing advertisements in the Chinese press for nannies and receptionists.
Victims would travel from Britain to Northern Ireland before being put to work as prostitutes at brothels in Belfast, Derry and Newry, according to the prosecution.
Ex-PSNI officer officer Simon Dempsey (40), of East Street, Newtownards, faces the same charges.
He has been granted bail but banned from leaving Northern Ireland.
Dempsey, who worked as a security consultant in Iraq after quitting the force in 2004, was stopped with two Chinese women at Belfast Port in May 2009, the court heard.
Chen's legal team mounted a fresh application for bail based partly on delays in the case and also because bail was granted to her co-accused. Defence counsel Sean Devine told the court it was alleged that Dempsey was the “muscle” in the operation.
He said it was claimed that the pair met when Chen was working in the reception of a brothel.
“This (alleged) international figure of sophisticated crime met by Mr Dempsey was working herself in a brothel and sleeping on a sofa, according to him,” the barrister said.
Mr Devine added: “It is difficult to take seriously that this ex-policeman, who would obviously be aware and wise to the ways of the world, was in some way led by the nose by this lady and was duped.”
With Chen's English-based chartered accountant husband in court, her lawyer disputed claims there was a risk of flight if she was released on bail.
He questioned why she would forfeit the life she has established in the UK to effectively become a fugitive.
The judge hearing the application reserved his decision until later this week.