Belfast Telegraph

Brothel madam Rong Chen clears first stage in fight against deportation to China

A woman jailed for controlling and trafficking prostitutes in Northern Ireland has cleared the first stage in a legal battle to halt her deportation to China.

Rong Chen has issued multiple High Court proceedings, including a rarely sought application for a writ of habeas corpus aimed at securing her immediate release.

A judge today threw out all but one ground of challenge, including claims that a deportation order was defective.

However, Mr Justice Treacy ruled that an arguable case had been established solely on the allegation of being unlawfully denied the right to appear in person at a bail hearing.

Her case will now proceed on that point alone.

Since completing her prison term Chen has been moved to a detention centre in England pending her planned deportation

She received a seven-year sentence for running a vice ring which involved conning women into thinking they were coming to work as child minders.

The 37-year-old, originally from China but with a former address at Crestwood Avenue, Kidderminister, Worcestershire, was found guilty of trafficking and controlling prostitution in 2012.

The judge who jailed her described her as ego-centric, money driven and said she had sexually exploited four women regardless of the impact on their lives.

Her husband, Jason Hinton, and former policeman Simon Dempsey, 44, of Ringbuoy Cove in Cloughey, Co Down, were also convicted of related offences.

The trio were brought to court following a six-month police operation into an organised crime gang controlling prostitution in Northern Ireland and trafficking women for exploitation.

They had admitted charges which included controlling prostitution for gain, trafficking women within the UK and handling money linked to the vice ring in 2008 and 2009.

It is believed the operation raked in more than £280,000 over an 18-month period.

Chen ran five brothels in Belfast, Newry and Londonderry, and duped Chinese women into travelling over to Northern Ireland.

She placed advertisements in English newspapers offering work as nannies and cleaners, only to force the women to work as prostitutes.

Once they arrived in Northern Ireland the women were threatened with violence and with their illegal status.

Lawyers battling to stop her being deported to China also claimed she has been kept under the wrong legislative provisions.

It was also argued that she is being further held in a detention centre for punitive reasons.

Mr Justice Treacy rejected submissions that a deportation order and notice of detention in her case were unlawful.

However, he held that further investigation was required over allegations that authorities refused to facilitate Chen's appearance via video-link at a failed bail application in Belfast in February.

The judge stressed that he was granting leave to continue with the challenge on that limited basis.

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