Belfast Telegraph

Man set up south Belfast townhouse as brothel, court told

BY ALAN ERWIN

Two women discovered in a south Belfast townhouse suspected of being used as a brothel were "listless, skinny and caked in make-up", the High Court heard.

The pair, both eastern European, were allegedly taken away by a man who booked the property online.

Josef Elias was later detained in a luxury SUV vehicle with luggage containing sex toys and condoms, prosecutors said.

The 51-year-old Czech national, with an address at View Drive, Dudley in the west Midlands, is charged with controlling prostitution for gain, and both possessing and concealing criminal property.

During a refused bail application it was claimed financial investigations revealed £150,000 passing through bank accounts linked to him over two years.

Elias was arrested in Belfast last November.

Police were alerted after a man giving his name booked the townhouse off the Malone Road for two nights via the internet.

Conor Maguire, prosecuting, told the court: "When the landlord checked the premises he discovered two young eastern European women who were listless, skinny and caked in make-up."

Although the landlord declined to make a statement, he claimed Elias arrived in a Silver BMW X5 and took the women away.

The accused was stopped the same day on Wellington Street and told police he was on holiday.

He claimed a Czech woman who was with Elias admitted being in the city for a two-week period to work as a prostitute.

Defence counsel Richard McConkey argued that if his client had been involved in prostitution he would have fled by now through a network of contacts.

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